Conversations on Gospel, Story, and Me: How Do We Talk About Faith on the Internet?

by Meghan Fowler

“My saviour.”

Those words are the prompt for the 12th day of the #socialmumsfeb instagram challenge that I’m doing. Who knew all the complex feelings this particular one would evoke in me.

The answer to “my saviour” for me is Jesus. 100%. Interestingly, these days I feel uncomfortable with language like this.
When I examine my heart on it, I know it’s NOT because I’m ashamed of Jesus – he is everything to me! – but because context is everything, and I wonder what those words mean to people reading them. Language is so powerful! Know what I mean!?

If you know me, if you know my story, hopefully hearing me say “Jesus saves!” sounds like good news, sounds like me telling you about this loving, benevolent God who went on a rescue mission for people he loves desperately, and NOT a guilt-ridden, aggressive assertion of shame and judgment posted on a billboard scaring you about an angry god and warning you away from hell. “Christians” have been seriously and gravely misrepresenting Jesus in huge ways for 2000 years. So many powerful words of scripture have been wrested from their context and misused to grievous ends.

I want to learn how we re-appropriate these words, particularly on the internet, where me, my story, and my person aren’t properly accessible in order to grant you the complete context for the words. And equally importantly, I don’t know YOU, I don’t know your story! I don’t know how you’ve experienced God, how you feel about Christians, what you believe, what you’re scared of.

 Information on the web is notoriously detached from the moorings of story, place, and all the other nuanced bits of interpersonal experience that help us discern message and meaning, heart and motive.

So it’s a huge challenge for me to know how to proclaim the Gospel – which literally means “good news” – without worry that people are only hearing through the filter of their own past experiences and impressions of what Christian language means. Even the word “Gospel” can be mired in misunderstanding. Maybe you think I am going to try and give you a tract (a digital one?!), or tell you about depravity, or say something condemning…. Guys! When I think about the Gospel my heart feels about to burst with the weight and the goodness of what the good news about Jesus means to me, what it means about me, about how I see the world, how I hope, how I love…. It has permeated my life in (I hope!) every way, effecting even the little crap, like how I think about shopping, how I think about cleaning the toilet, why I bake bread, how I talk to store-clerks, to bigger ideological things like what I believe about homemaking and hospitality and earth-care and marriage and community and identity, and, and….

Here’s the thing: interpreting meaning on an interpersonal level has never been easy – not ever – but I wager it is even less so on the internet, where we send out bits and bytes of information “about us” into space and hope they translate neatly into the meaning we intend. Knowing people, and knowing their stories + people knowing me, knowing my story: those are the context for proper faith conversations. So know that as I post about my faith, most often I intend to do so couched in the context of my own life. And when I say “my saviour!” I say it with a whole back story of love and pain and triumph and wrestle wherein He truly has saved me and saves me anew on the regular.

I love Jesus, and he is my Saviour! But for you to really know what that means to me, you need to know me and the Jesus I know. Both of which I would like to happen.

– Meg

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