This 2,000-year-old message is just as powerful today -- especially for teens.
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I recently stumbled across a meme that I thought would be good for youngsters when it comes to social media. It simply read: “The greatest man who ever walked the earth only had 12 followers. Don’t judge your impact by your numbers.”
It struck me as a powerful message for kids, who often think that the quantity of friends you have is more important than the quality. Even many adults feel insecure if their list of friends on social media doesn’t climb up into the hundreds, even thousands.
But I also considered the quality of His 12 “friends.” They didn’t always have His back, and He faced rejection during their time together. Yet, Jesus didn’t turn away from them. He believed in them and carried on doing God’s work.
In fact Jesus, through his 12 apostles, demonstrated what it is to be a friend … what we should expect from a friend, and most importantly, how we should treat them.
However, while this meme demonstrates a very powerful point, I was also encouraged to think about His broader network. Of course we commonly think of his 12 apostles, but He also had 72 hand-picked disciples that He sent out to villages and towns to spread His message. He really was the original influencer. And that’s something to share with your kids who love their social media!
Yet it’s also important to point out how Jesus gained his followers. Those 5,000 who gathered to listen to him near Bethesda weren’t impressed with fake images or crass language. They came to Him to hear his message of love. A fundamental and vital message that struck at the hearts of those who heard Him 2,000 years ago. And it’s something we still need to hear today.
(And by the way, if Jesus had posted His message on Facebook He’d no doubt have garnered a huge number of likes and loves, but would not have been put off by the angry faces or even laughs.)
So when your kids are driving you crazy with their social media, telling you that “you know nothing” about modern communication, give them a friendly reminder that their Heavenly Father sent His Son all those years ago with a method that worked — it landed him millions of followers who continue to pass on His message today.