The number of people visiting our church’s web site keeps increasing. Sometimes when I’m invited to speak at other churches, people whom I have never seen before sometimes come to me and say, “I visit your church’s web site every day.”
The most popular page on our site is Na Num Tu, our bulletin board. I asked our webmaster to set it up because I wanted to help build community through the Web. Since our church consists of small house churches, our members scarcely know anyone outside of their own house church families. I wanted to help form a larger community by allowing our members to share their life stories. Any stories that come from life experience are welcome here, whether they’re funny, silly, sad, or anything else.
I visit the board at least once a day, even when I am out of town. I enjoy reading some posts a great deal, others less so. What I realized is that I don’t particularly enjoy posts that read like an editorial or a sermon. Some of them exhibit good sense and are well written. Still, I don’t quite connect with them. Nor do I enjoy reading secondhand posts of articles written by someone else. Some of them are moving and beautiful. But I still don’t care too much about them. Why don’t I like these kinds of posts? Even when they’re nicely written, logical, and heartwarming? They don’t impact me because they don’t come from the personal life experiences of the authors.
It is difficult for me to enjoy reading which is not based on life experience, but on personal opinions or speculations. For similar reasons, I don’t enjoy listening to sermons given by those who don’t practice what they preach. What impacts me most are experiences that are lived.
I recently watched a movie called “The Postman (Il Postino)”. It’s a story about a Chilean poet named Neruda. Neruda was living in exile from his home country in a small Italian fishing town. The movie details the friendship that developed between this Nobel laureate and an ordinary Italian postman. This poet later returned to his home country and became a senator and a presidential candidate. I usually don’t like reading poems because, although they’re nice, to me many of them seem more about word play, and they lack the depth that comes from living an honest life. But I think I would enjoy reading Neruda’s poems, because he lived a full life. His poems are bound to reflect his colorful life experience.
God gave us our lives to live, not to analyze, argue about, or complain about. That’s why I enjoy reading our church members’ life stories on our web page – they lived it!
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