Last week Thursday I woke up to see the alleys of Facebook inundated with numbers – decimal numbers, whole numbers and occasionally, even a GSM number. I saw things like “#123 is ‘bad’ as in ‘a bad guy’, he can be annoying when he wants but he’s really just a bad guy”. I wondered what it all meant.
I got the inside scoop from my sister, a chronic ‘twitterlet’ if you could call it that, who said an American rapper, Nicki Minaj, had tweeted that folks should send their friends peculiar numbers, so they could tweet about what they felt of the owners of the numbers without revealing their identity. Of course in keeping with the nature of the internet, which a colleague has aptly described as ‘anti–secret’, it spread like wild fire to Facebook , which is why it ended up in my news feed.
I thought the game was fascinating, and I indulged a bit. I chose the number 2202 – my son’s birth date – and sent it to at least 15 of my friends who were in on the game. I also received at least 20 numbers. I set about providing as much ego boosting commentary as I could, throwing in the occasional criticism to provide the balance I thought necessary to avoid being ingratiating. Facebook is, after all, a social network.
I received my commentaries too; glowing platitudes of my ‘achievements’. I really had to laugh, what would God think of this? I did receive a few strokes too; a dear friend said, “You can be bossy at times”, but quickly went on to add, “but even in your bossiness, there’s still something to be learnt”. Bless her heart , for remembering that the ego is like a porcelain vase; fragile.
The concept of wanting to know what people think of us didn’t start from Nicki Minaj. Legend speaks of ancient kings who would assemble their subjects in their opulent palaces and ask that they begin to tell what they thought of the king, his leadership and the vastness of his kingdom (it was never considered that the kingdom wasn’t vast). To be certain, those sessions were a mere formality, because anyone who dared to speak of a grievance with the king was immediately beheaded – a great price to pay for unrestrained candor.
Even our Lord Jesus felt a need to feel the heartbeat of his followers; to come to terms with their perceptions of him no matter how amorphous.
He said, “who do people say I am?”. After a series of interesting answers, he asked, “who do you say I am?” speaking to his close twelve, suggesting that maybe their answer mattered more.
Many of us know the inspired answer that Simon Peter gave, for which Jesus had to confess “flesh and blood had not revealed this to you”. His answer was rewarded with the privilege of being the foundation upon which the church is built. Ah, the importance of the right answer!
Jesus didn’t ask those questions because he didn’t know who he was. He had revealed who he was repeatedly, to the disgust of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. When Jesus said, “I and my father are one,” they spat and shook their heads saying, “How dare he compare himself to God?”
Since this faith which we share is about being Christ like, then we would do well to emulate his ways. Jesus went first to his father to receive insight into who he was. The same should apply to us. God gives the clearest, unbiased, honest opinion of us through his word.
The verses “For he that looketh into the perfect law of liberty” and “As we behold with open faces, as in a glass” show that there is a place for looking and beholding. Are you looking where you should? Are you doing anything about what you see?
It is still important for us to know what men think of us, especially the members of the household of faith. Even Apostle Paul, after hearing that the Corinthian church felt that he was a bit harsh with his first letter, felt the need to explain the reason for his fiery tone by writing 2nd Corinthians. There he explained that it was really because he desired the best for them, assuring them of his consuming love. There is indeed a thing as peer-to-peer review, resulting in a change for the better.
But our unique identity, in its purest form, is still only available from God. So if HE says #123 is a bad guy, he means just that – he is a bad guy.
And if HE tells me I am too bossy for comfort, I doubt that he would accompany his comment with a compliment to try to make me feel good.