I was talking with a friend this morning, and the subject circled around to issues in technology and Christian living. One thing we discussed was whether it is possible to send the communion of two souls over a digital connection. We concluded that there is a certain experience of personal, physical interaction that cannot be achieved from a distance, no matter how that distance is bridged. In New Testament times, the technological means of fellowship from a distance was a letter. Still, this did not sufficiently stand in for personal, physical presence. Writing a letter to Rome did not satisfy Paul’s desire for personal fellowship with the believers in that church (Rom 1:11).
Today, technological means can impersonate (in a literal way) true interaction–true communion–with another person more closely. I can video chat with my parents from 2300 miles away. I can see my folks’ faces, and talk with them instantly. It’s close to personal interaction. Well, it’s closer to personal interaction than, say, writing an epistle to the Slavich family dispersed throughout the continental forty-eight.
It’s the closer-ness that causes the confusion. Our technology has approached true interaction so quickly that our heads spin. I like to think that I am somewhat technologically savvy. And, still, I think “Wow” whenever I talk with my California-dwelling folks or a Colorado-visiting friend over a video chat. The moving pictures make me sense their true presence more closely, and it’s better than writing a letter, or an email, or even a phone call.
But it is still not the deepest and intended level of communion that God intends when he says things like “Do not give up meeting together” (Heb 10:25). In-person, physical communion and fellowship is what we were made for, and an unquantifiable depth of soul-connection piggybacks upon it. A depth that cannot be sent over the internet or phone waves or bleed through ink and paper.