Today I want to talk about filters. And it’s probably not the filters that immediately come to mind, so hear me out. It all started a couple weeks ago. Since moving to Portland Thomas and I have struggled to find a home church, and have been on the journey to find our community for almost two years. That is primarily why two weeks ago I found myself at a worship night at my friend’s church. Initially I didn’t know anyone but her, and yet my naturally extroverted self was nothing short of giddy. New faces, new places, and endless opportunities to connect: all of this is just fuel for my fire! As soon as I entered the building I began looking around at the people surrounding me and getting a feel for my environment. Friends I was so excited, meeting new people and making that initial connection is one of my favorite things. Getting a feel for my environment turned quickly into looking for people to make acquaintance with, or at least introduce myself to. However not in the way you might think, and not in a way I’m particularly proud of. I started looking at how they were dressed, who they were with, their age. And within the mere second it takes to blink I felt my excitement vanish and instead I felt..nothing. There was a vacancy in my heart and I could feel it, and immediately that excitement turned to disappointment. I remember realizing what had happened and shaking my head, physically and mentally snapping out of it. I couldn’t believe it and yet..is it really that hard to believe?
We are becoming a society so used to primary communication being behind a screen, reading words that have been analyzed and stared at before sharing and pictures that have been filtered, adjusted, and edited we forget that it’s just that: an edit. We decide whether to “follow” someone based off of what we see at a glance, a quick analysis leading to a very definite yes or no. If we don’t like what we see or read in whatever pre-determined amount of time we spend judging a person (because that’s what it is, right? it’s a judgment) we allow them to pass by. Why follow someone that isn’t speaking to your liking? So then, is it such a shock that eventually we scan real life in the same way? Later on that evening I was still thinking about what had happened and I realized I wouldn’t be friends with any of the people I know, I wouldn’t have met or fallen in love with Thomas, heck I wouldn’t even be me if I actually lived my life that way. If I actually decided whether to even speak to someone based off whether their personal styles and overall “look” were similar to mine, or intriguing to me in some way. This goes beyond judging a book by its cover, this is actively deciding to throw transparency out the window. Dismissing the heart, the memories, the thoughts and the minds of people around you and instead deciding whether you will know each other or not based off of whether they match the criteria you’ve subconsciously created in your head for people you associate with.
Social media is a wonderful thing. Apps like facebook and instagram can be wonderful things. But they are also JUST apps. I love instagram for its ability to connect me with a broader community of people who love Jesus, more vast than anything I could accomplish without access to the internet. It helps the voice God has given me reach someone who may need to hear that someone is out there that cares + is eager to listen, and lastly I can share my passions. All of that is wonderful.
That said, let me ask you this. Who was Jesus not friends with? Who did Jesus decide wasn’t worth His time, didn’t look the part, or didn’t match His “aesthetic”? If Christ did have a social media account, would there be anyone truly worthy of His following? His time? His attention?
Friend this is my prayer for you today. Look at what people have to offer on the inside. There’s absolutely no way to know until you speak to them yourself, so go. Speak to people you wouldn’t normally, go out of your way to engage so that eventually there isn’t a hesitance, there isn’t a line between who you will and won’t talk to. There’s just you and another child of God, completely unworthy and yet absolutely irreplaceable. And not because of a look or a brain or a heart or a filter, but because our worth is found solely and entirely in His sacrifice, a sacrifice that was for everyone you see, not just someone you’re drawn to materialistically. Don’t lock yourself up to one specific “niche” of humanity when God created an entire world for you to engage with. We were created for so much more than shallow “scans” and cliquey tendencies. There isn’t a person on this planet you can look at that Jesus doesn’t love. There’s no one too good, too mighty, too different, or too out of reach. Take the time to pull up the blinds you’ve so diligently placed in front of your eyes and atop your heart, and let the delicate and tender parts of you connect with whoever He sends your way.