God loves me — regardless of my Klout.
-- Text of Tueday's morning chapel --
I am working at home, daughter sees I ‘m on Facebook and says
”Dad, I ‘m better than you.”
"I have more friends - and your friends are not real friends, only colleagues from work"
How do we determine a person’s value? By the number of “friends” (or: contacts on Facebook)? Instead of Facebook friends, you can also insert other things: the house you built, the job you got, the money that you earn, or your friends in real life.
A second scene: My daughter uploaded a new profile picture in a social network.
After uploading she prompted her friends for comments. Within minutes, she received feedback. Fortunately, it was a lot of positive comments.
I know that teenagers need feedback by their peer group. The internet is sometimes brutal an sometimes brutally honest. What would have happened if my daughter had not gotten any feedback at all? Would she view herself a “victim”? Would she have lost her value?
But it is not only young people who are affected by social networks
A colleague joined Facebook. After I confirmed his fiend request, Facebook displayed a message on my screen: “N.N. has 3 friends only - help him find more friends.”
Such a looser, I thought and then I started to realize what I just had done in my mind.
What am I proud of? What I can be proud of? Who or what gives me value? Who gives me identity? Or using the language St Paul used in his epistle to the Romans, “what can I boast?”
Romans 3: Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness is given through faith in8 Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,9 through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-
26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.
28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Let me repeat: “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
We all have sinned, I am no better than anybody else. Whether someone has three friends or three hundred friends or even three thousand friends, the number of friends does not save a person. The value God attributes to us does not depend on the number of friends I have.
God grants us justification - value - because of what Christ did for us and not because of our own achievements.
The number Facebook friends - the currency for the self-esteem of many young people - does not save us. Of course, “friends” is a placeholder, we may add other things here to fill in the blanks: professional recognition, volunteer work in the community, social prestige or whatever we may think gives value to us:
“We fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – says St Paul.
On the other hand, whether we have three, three hundred, or three thousand friends or more, we are valuable to God because Jesus Christ saved us by grace alone.
We are justified before God because of Christ’s work and not because of what we have done.
Do you know “Klout”?
It is an online service that measures the influence or importance of a person. The Klout is measured from zero to one hundred. Someone who has no online biography, no twitter followers, has no blog, no friends who mention him on Facebook, this person has a Klout value of zero. The American President Barack Obama has a Klout close to hundred, millions see his tweets.
What is my Klout ? What is your Klout? Marketing companies attempting to introduce new products to the market try to influence opinion leaders. Free samples are given to people with a certain Klout value. For example, persons with a Klout of 50 or more receive preferential treatment and are given new products for free.
Those who have a Klout of fifty or more are leaders and valuable. If you have less you are worthless for the marketing companies.
Once you reach a certain Klout value you must work hard to maintain it.
Don’t go on vacation and shut off your cell phone. If you stop tweeting or blogging your Klout immediately goes down.
Klout also offers the possibility to compare myself to others. I can check my Klout score against theirs.
Repudiation is probably the most valuable asset in social networks. Keeping a high Klout value is a lot of pressure. Which Klout score is sufficient? Am I good enough with 50? Or do I need more?
Martin Luther expressed Paul’s theology as the doctrine of justification. Today, we use other terminology to express the same theological concept. Instead of “righteousness” we might say “power ” or “Klout”.
But theologically, it is all the same. How can we stand before God? And be acceptable to God? Can I stand before God because of my good deeds? No. Because of my high Klout score? No. Even a Klout of 100 does not help me.
On the other hand, it is true: Even with a Klout of zero, I ‘m loved by of God.
My value does not depend on my Klout but on God justifying me. He loves me just as I am, regardless of my Klout.