The road to Emmaus is one of the best biblical accounts of how social media works. And I find it striking that in this 2000-year-old account of a resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ we have the very fundamentals of social media. But then again should I be surprised? The Gospel is, after all, always astonishing.
In this passage Jesus appears to the disciples, although they do not yet know who he is. He walks with them along the long and dusty road. He comes into relationship with them. Jesus dialogues with them and lets them open up to him about themselves and what has just transpired in Jerusalem. Jesus does not force the conversation or push content upon them instead he builds a relationship.
After a time, once a relationship has been established, Jesus continues to dialogue with them, but he also begins to offer content. He opens their minds to scripture. This is tricky of course, because this is the moment when we would want to push content upon people, but instead Jesus demonstrates for us that the time is not yet right. Instead, He focuses on building the relationship, understanding a subject (namely the scriptures) and how we must first come to walk together before being bombarded with content, the finale is when he appears to the disciples in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus on the road to Emmaus knows something fundamentally important about relationship building that we lose at times in social media. We push content, new post, new blogs, new sermons posted to the web. We push content in the hopes of gaining new followers and new “likes”. We purchase ads to further our reach and further the reach of our content. And by doing so we forget what Jesus talked about so long ago, and that is to come into relationship with people.
Pushing content seems natural to us. Having something new up on our Facebook pages and websites seems critically important in an ever-increasing world based on consumption. Yet, I think, Jesus is demonstrating for us on that long and dusty road that instead of consuming, we ought to be coming into relationship with one another.
So always remember, that while content is important, so also is it important to stop, engage and interact with those that like, comment or share our posts. Take time in your day to read what others put forward on their social networks and work on building relationships. Enter into dialogue and discuss, get to know one another.
In today’s media savvy world, it does not take long to develop a reputation as a spammer, content pusher and a social media version of an ads pusher. And remember we count success not in number of likes, multiple points of entry into our churches or growth, but we count success always in the spreading of the Gospel message and coming into real relationship with our brothers and sisters.