More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.
There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.
For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.
.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.
Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?
Not at all.
In fact, you could just remove yourself from the group or just click delete and be done with them, that simple. Many people prefer this because we can hide instead of being confronted. When you are dealing with sinful choices or you made a bad move there’s nobody there to correct you when your online.
I am all for anything that expands the gospel of Christ, whether it’s online, Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs, etc. I myself am writing these articles partly to see others know Christ personally, but at the same time I understand the importance of having someone who has an authoritative position (like a pastor for example, or church leader) who can speak into my life and tell me things I don’t want to hear, but in the end will help me. God loves us, and disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3:11-12) so don’t be afraid of stepping into that place of fellowship with other Christians, or others of your faith. Keep your digital connections with those that you have built relationships with, but never forget the importance of spending time with others that can help you grow.
17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
– Proverbs 27:17
Being in a church group, whether big or small, new or old, will help you grow as a person. You may feel uncomfortable having to listen to someone speak truths that go against what you want to do, but often it’s those words that we need to hear the most. We don’t want to be checked and told what we are doing is against God’s word and will for our life, or that if we turn our lives over to Him and follow His standards for living we will be blessed. We would rather live our own lives and do what we want, but that never leads us to success. I challenge you, my reader, to take the next step towards being a part of a group or church that will take you to another level. Even if it’s just a small bible study that meets once a week, get plugged in and don’t walk this journey of life alone
* E/N: While it’s our goal to build genuine community here at Beneath the Tangles, we never want to substitute as a church for any individual. We encourage all of our readers to become part of a local church community, or for those who are not believers, to consider trying out a church for a while to see how believers live out their faith together.