Jesus spoke in tweets before tweets became cool, if by tweets one means short messages.
Think about his most memorable messages: Jesus’ moral imperative translates into only 34 characters: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
His Golden Rule ran 47 characters: “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”
His challenge to judgmental moralists was 57 characters: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
His call for peacemaking was 61 characters: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
When he announced his moral mission, he read from a text in Isaiah that was only 248 characters, too long for Twitter but still acceptable as micro-blogging.
He used less than 300 characters to teach his disciples the model prayer, the most memorized prayer in Christian history. Known as the Lord’s Prayer, it was recorded in both Matthew and Luke, albeit a longer version in the former gospel.
Simplicity and clarity were hallmarks of his communication, unlike much of contemporary Christianity that favors brain-numbingly wordy theology, indecisive dissertations of moral obfuscation and long-winded, self-righteous prayers.
Had 21st-century technology existed in dusty Palestine, Jesus would have encouraged the use of Twitter as a tool for the discipline of simplicity and clarity.
But he would also have cautioned about the threats of technology. He would have warned about the temptation of technology to supplant God and to replace authentic community, the dangers of idolatry and false human connectivity.
Technology can be a blessing or curse. If micro-blogging fosters spiritual and moral discipline, then it may be a blessing. If it becomes a rival god, a retreat from community or a vehicle for hate speech, then it may be a curse.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. This editorial appeared originally on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” Web page.
Robert M. Parham (1953 – 2017) was the founder and executive director of Baptist Center for Ethics from 1991 to 2017. He served as executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, BCE’s website, from its launch in 2002 until 2017.