Virtual Friends

Virtual Friends

What do you do when you realize you have wronged a brother or a sister in Christ? You go to him or her and attempt to personally set it straight.

I had a conflict to resolve with a brother this week and I used E-mail and the fax machine. Not good enough.

It occurs to me that we’ve never had more communication technology and less real contact with people. We’ve got video phones, picture phones, E-mail and text messaging – I’ve even heard there is experimentation going on by which we will be able to communicate via brain waves – but are we any closer to each other because of all this? An argument could be made that we are actually growing further and further apart. Pretty soon all we will have is virtual communication among virtual friends. Virtual – as in almost, but not quite.

Virtual is truly the word of the day. The first synonym for virtual that comes up in my dictionary is “near.” We’re nearly friends, but not really. “Virtual” is a substitute for the real thing. The antonym (opposite) that came up for “virtual” is “actual.” Put these two together and you have “virtual” as something that appears close to the real thing but in actuality is so far off the mark that there couldn’t be anything farther from the truth. “Virtual” is like a moon shot that misses the moon. The farther it travels in the universe, the farther away from its destination it becomes, making “virtual reality” the quintessential oxymoron.

Please understand I’m speaking to myself here (I usually am). I use E-mail way too much. My written skills are much better than my verbal ones (unless I have a chance to prepare). Face to face confrontation is very difficult for me, so any chance I get to hide behind an E-mail or a fax, I’ll take it. How convenient that a whole culture is moving in the direction of an oxymoron.

When John the Apostle talked about Christ he found it necessary to point out that he and the other disciples had had physical contact with Jesus. “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands” (1 John 1:1). It was important to John for us to know this. Nothing virtual here. This was the real thing.

We need the real thing with each other. We need to come out of hiding. We’re never going to find ourselves in here anyway. We only know ourselves as we meet ourselves in others and ultimately in Christ who has touched us all with His virtual presence.

by John Fischer



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