Facebook gives a clue to the most important relationship in our life.
The famous artist, Pablo Picasso said, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” I think the point he was making is that as amazing as computers are, they can only give answers to the questions we give them. Computers cannot create their own questions to ask. The ability to ask questions is something that distinguishes us from machines and even from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is something that makes human beings unique.
God created human beings unique from all of the other creatures on this planet. The Bible says that when God created the various kinds of life, he simply spoke them into being. That was true with everything but human beings. When God made us, he breathed the breath of life into us and we became a living being (Genesis 2:7). God was intimately involved in our creation in a unique way.
The kind of creature we are is unique too. The Bible says we have been made in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26). We don’t fully understand everything that being created in the image of God means. But, part of what that means is that God created us to have a personal relationship with Him. Imagine that. The God of the Universe made us with the intention of having a personal relationship with us.
The film, The Social Network, tells the somewhat fictionalized story of the founding of the social networking web site, Facebook. The film’s opening and closing scenes function as bookends, capturing the heart of the story underneath all of the other stuff going on in the film.
In the opening scene, the Mark Zuckerberg character is talking to his girlfriend at a table in a bar trying to communicate with her, but failing badly. He keeps making one fumbled attempt after another until she gets mad and leaves him sitting at the table alone. He then goes back to his dorm room and in a fit of anger posts a stream of terribly mean remarks about her on his personal blog. Predictably, these remarks on his blog are eventually seen by her. She then refuses to have anything to do with him. (Ironically, it was during this same angry tirade that what would become Facebook was born.)
In the closing scene of the film, the Mark Zuckerberg character, now insanely wealthy and successful as the creator of Facebook, is seen sitting in front of his computer, logged into his personal Facebook account. He sends this same woman who was once his girlfriend a “friend request,” and then keeps hitting the refresh button on his web browser again and again, hoping she will respond and accept him as a Facebook friend. The movie ends with us not knowing if she ever responds to his friend request.
The human heart hungers for relationship. We have a deep need to connect. All of the fame and wealth that the Mark Zuckerburg character had acquired couldn’t make up for that need. He longed for reconciliation and relationship.
There is an itch in the human heart that Facebook scratches. I realize that part of the draw of Facebook is it provides a fun and convenient way of staying up-to-date with people we know. But, I believe there is something deeper going on too. Our need to connect, to be known, to be heard, to be seen, to matter, to belong, to be loved is also what draws us. How else can we explain the odd need people have of posting photos of what they are eating? Or, the multitude of other useless bits of information we share as our status updates? “I’m here. I want someone to know that. I want someone’s attention. I want someone to care about me.”
I remember a number of years ago, all of the doomsday worrywarts were predicting that all of this personal technology was going to turn all of us into pasty-skinned, red-eyed, cave dwellers, living in isolation from the rest of the human race. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, we have taken the technology and bent it to serve our need to connect and carry on relationships with one another. Through all of this personal technology, like cell phones and computers, we are able to maintain an almost continuous stream of connectedness with other people.
Why is this need for relationship, for connection, so strong in us? First, because we were made that way. As mentioned before, God created us for relationship. We are wired for relationship.
Second, the need for relationship is so strong in us because the most important relationship we were created to have, a relationship with God, has been broken. That relationship is so fundamental, and the loss of it has left such a huge hole in us, that we are forever restless longing for it, whether we are conscious of it or not.
Our alienation, our feeling of disconnectedness, of alone-ness, of isolation, of never being completely known and understood by anyone, is a result of our broken relationship with God. The famous mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Augustine expressed it this way, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”
Our need to connect, to be known, to be heard, to be seen, to matter, to belong, to be loved, can truly be met only in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is what we are seeking.
Cause and Consequences
Our sin has broken our relationship with God. You might have felt a little defensive when you read that. But, you don’t need to be. Notice that I said, “our sin,” which includes me and my sin. I’m no better than anyone else. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
I don’t think we need to be convinced about our sinfulness, if we are really honest about it. In those quiet moments of reflection, we know the truth about our self. We know we are guilty. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The only person we are deceiving when we claim not to have sinned is our self. Our friends know the truth. Our spouse knows the truth. Our kids know the truth. Our parents know the truth. Nearly everyone we have had any interaction with knows the truth. And, God definitely knows the truth.
Regrettably, I need to tell you some more bad news before I can tell you the good news. Not only has our sin broken our relationship with God, but the breaking of that relationship brought death into our world (Romans 5:12). We are dead spiritually because of our sin, and we are going to eventually die physically.
And, unfortunately, we don’t have the power in our self to restore the broken relationship with God. We can’t do enough good stuff to make up for the sins we have committed, nor do we have the will power in our self alone to stop sinning. Our fate is sealed, being dead spiritually, eventually dead physically, and forever separated from God.
The Good News
Jesus Christ can save us from our terrible fate. Here is the good news in a nutshell:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
(John 3:16, 17)
I want us to note three things in this passage. First, God’s love for us is what motivated him to do what he has done, giving his own precious Son for us. God loves you and me. He was unwilling to leave us forever separated from himself. Second, Jesus was not sent here on a mission of condemnation and judgment, but on a mission of rescue. We are condemned now. He came to rescue us from that fate. Third, we need to believe in Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished for us through his death and resurrection. When the Bible says “believe” it does not mean a simple acknowledgment like saying, “I believe in UFOs.” Instead, when the Bible says “believe” it means that there is a shift in our worldview, in the way we understand reality and the meaning and purpose of our life. We are trading in whatever we used to trust in and build our life on, and exchanging it for becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.
Our sin broke the relationship between us and God. The person who can restore that broken relationship is Jesus Christ. Through his life, Jesus has taught us and shown us what God intends human beings to be. He has modeled “human” for us. He has given us the perfect example to follow—himself.
Through his death, Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice for our sins. To make it possible for you and me to be forgiven for our sins and be freed from our guilt before God, someone completely innocent and undeserving had to die in our place, receiving the punishment and judgment of God that we deserve. That innocent one was Jesus Christ. He willingly submitted himself to death for us. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus traded places with us when he was crucified.
Through his resurrection, we too can experience resurrection and eternal life. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus says of himself, “[I am] the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” When Martha was weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus had a conversation with her in John 11:23-27: “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’” In John 14:19, Jesus told his followers just before he was arrested and crucified, “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” In other words, because Jesus has been resurrected, his followers will be resurrected too.
Through his Son, Jesus Christ, God has sent us the ultimate “friend request.” God wants to connect with you and me. He wants a relationship with us. He has done everything necessary to make that possible. But, to be “friends” we need to respond to that request. We need to accept it. What Jesus Christ has done to reconcile the human race to God is not automatically applied to all people. It is only applied to those who respond, who believe in Jesus, who receive him into their lives.
We can have the most important relationship we were created for restored, through Jesus Christ. We can be forgiven. We can have our guilt taken away. We can have a new purpose for our life. We can have our “emptiness” filled. We can have the hope of eternal life.
To begin this new relationship: we need to believe that Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins and came back to life to give us eternal life; we need to recognize and admit we have sinned, living our life for our self, instead of for God; we need to repent, which means we need to change the direction and behavior of our life and start following Jesus Christ; and we need to ask Jesus to come into our life and begin to make us into the person he wants us to be.
If you want to be reconciled to God and begin this new life, pray a prayer like this:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you died for my sins and came back to life on the third day to give me eternal life. Forgive me. Save me. I’m giving myself to you from this day forward. Come into my life and change me.”
Do you want to talk more about this with someone? Are you wondering what to do next? Please contact us. We won’t pressure you in any way. We will just try to answer your questions and lend a helping hand.
Copyright 2014, Touchstone Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), Copyright 2001, Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.