Bishop David Kendall<br /> To read more from Bishop Kendall, visit fmcusa.org/davidkendall.
Perhaps you have had this experience. You are together with friends and extended family in conversation. But not everyone is there.
A brother serves Jesus in India, and a sister serves at an NGO located in the Netherlands. Not being there, however, is not really a problem. Both brother and sister are still “there” with the help of Skype. Then, during the conversation of all who are “there,” a cellphone rings, and another connection happens. Over the course of the next hour, grandpa receives or sends no less than 67 text messages, various devices notify the group of 15 newsfeed alerts on the latest developments, and others in the family hear a half-dozen other signals or alarms regarding things going on.
No doubt we have more ways to connect with more people than previous generations. No doubt most of us take at least some advantage of the tools and technologies at hand. And yet, some of us feel less connected, less aware and less in touch than ever before.
All connections are not equal. Multiple ways to connect do not guarantee connection will occur, and do not guarantee that the connections made will be meaningful. In fact, tools and technologies, and their use, often mislead us to think that connection is an end in itself. That if we can connect and do, something significant has happened. I say “mislead” because connection is more like the means rather than the end. The end or goal of human connection is relational, not instrumental.
Connection can make it possible to communicate. Communication opens up the possibility of communion. And only communion — with God and others — satisfies the deeper needs we have that drive us to seek connection in the first place.
By all means, let us use the technology to connect. Let us take full advantage of the tools at hand. But let us be content only with establishing, extending and deepening
relationships. We were made for love, and love requires give and take, reaching and receiving. It requires the mutuality that occurs when we come to know others who in turn know us.