Since I moved to Sheffield, God has been stirring things up. Between reading God’s Smuggler and praying over what God wants me to do here in Sheffield and online, I believe more strongly than ever that the community we are building here at CounterCultural. CounterCouture. is part of His plan.
While reading Brother Andrew’s story in God’s Smuggler, I have been amazed by the stories told of the Church behind the Iron Curtain. The other bit that has stuck with me is the Iron Curtain as an analogy. During the Cold War, the Church was facing a war of attrition from the state and society. In 21st Century Britain, the Church is also facing a war of attrition behind a curtain. I have dubbed it the Plastic Curtain.
Hiding Behind the Plastic Curtain
This curtain is not a plastic shower curtain. I’ve dubbed it the plastic curtain because the items that make up the curtain are made of plastic: radio, television, computers, phones, tablets. Everyday we are buying more and more of these plastic devices that show us idealised fantasies, connect us with people and stream the news to our homes. We have become so unattached from the real, physical world that real life has its own hashtag, #IRL!
The problem with this Plastic Curtain is that, just like the Iron Curtain, there is a steady stream of media that wears down the Church. From liberal toleration, where all are tolerated so long as you tolerate all, to villainous clergy in supernatural dramas, the Church is being worn down. But instead of questioning what is being streamed, we just accept it.
“This is how things are and the best thing for the Church is to accept and adapt to the changes.”
Because our devices allow us to stream media from the comfort of our own room, it has even managed to remove us from the greatest strength of the underground Church across the world. Meeting together in fellowship! Instead, we’re in our rooms watching YouTube or Netflix on our own “communicating” via Snapchat.
Yes, its a bleak message but does it really sound all that ridiculous? Nowadays we can spend an entire evening in the same house as someone else without seeing or talking to them. Yeah. That. Can. Happen. So instead of spending time with other people, let alone other Christians, we allow ourselves to be curtained off by a plastic device and streaming media.
Moving Behind the Plastic Curtain
I’m just going to point out here, I’m not having a go at the concept of smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs or even radios. I love to listen to the radio in the morning or catch up on Once Upon A Time via Netflix as much as the next person. But we need to start moving behind the Plastic Curtain instead of hiding behind it.
Just like Brother Andrew went behind the Iron Curtain to strengthen the Church there, we need to be moving behind the Plastic Curtain to strengthen the Church here.
- Be positive online. Stop using Facebook as somewhere to air your arguments and negativity. Change your mindset so that people can see the positive impact you have.
- Start sharing. Pick your favourite platform and dare to “get Christian” on it. Be brave enough to post scripture as a status or to use #illustratedbible on Instagram.
- Comment. The only way we are going to build a Church behind this Plastic Wall is if we actually talk to each other. So encourage each other by commenting on status, photos, retweets or how ever you do it. Share encouragements, prayers, praise and life together.
- Influence. If you’re really brave, start using your platforms to take God to His Church online. Start an Instagram account, tweet out bible verses or host a Facebook group. If you’re really brave, why not start a blog or vlog? (If you want to start slow, why not guest post on CounterCultural. CounterCouture?)
Moving Beyond the Plastic Curtain
There is one advantage that we have over the Church Brother Andrew strengthened. We are not banned from meeting together as a church and for that alone we should be rejoicing. So let’s make use of this amazing privilege!
Meet with people in real life. If you belong to a cell group, make it a habit to go every week. If you’re not part of one, then start one up. All it takes is two or more people meeting together to pray and study the Bible. Or maybe hosting a dinner for friends to fill your house with real people. Or go for a walk with your boyfriend to spend time together without distraction.
If you’re in an area without many other Christians, then don’t fear. Those other Christians you’ve started talking to online? Get to know them better. Even start a group on Facebook for a place to create a small community of likeminded Christians. I did it with four other girls and it was one of the best choices I ever made. I may have never met Hannah, Jasilyn, Jackie or Ashley but our Facebook community has become a place of support and fellowship as a Christian blogger. And who knows, maybe one day we will meet for real. If you can’t connect outside the internet, then make living behind the Plastic Curtain work for you.
To move beyond the Plastic Curtain, you need to put your device down and be in the same place as other Christians, physical if possible. If we want to strengthen the Church today, we need to reach them behind the Plastic Curtain and then we need to bring them beyond it.
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