I love twitter. I love the access it gives us to bite-sized chunks of humour, theology and news. I love hashtags and retweets. I love being able to click a hashtag and get a window into the lives of individuals and wider culture. It is a wonderful invention.
Recently twitter has been awash with two hashtags in particular (well three if you include #Ihateflappybird). These are #neknomination and #raknomination. Let me expand for those who are unfamiliar. #neknomination is a drinking game, the hashtag will lead to videos of someone ‘necking’ their drink and accompanying the event with some creative act, often something unsafe or risky. They then publically nominate someone else to outdo them. In short; stupid.
RAKnominations grew up as a response. Rather than use the nomination to drink too much and risk injury the RAKnomination is used to video oneself performing Random Act of Kindness followed by challenge for someone to outdo that act. What a wonderful idea with potential to have huge effect in the world. It is becoming cool to be kind. Awesome.
I love to celebrate those who show kindness. Anyone who finds it within themselves to do something good in the world is worthy of some appreciation. So keep being kind, keep showing mercy, keep being generous. My twitter feed this week has been full of churches, youth groups and individual Christians RAKnominating one another.
I was thinking about this phenomenon this morning and my mind stumbled back to Matthew 6. This happens to me a lot because I think Jesus’ teaching in this passage has a lot to say to some of the trends that we encourage in church culture these days. Here is a reminder of two highlights from the teaching;
‘When you pray, pray in private and God will hear you.’
‘When you show kindness do it in secret, don’t let one hand know the good the other is doing.’
Challenging words for me personally. When I was leading Conversations in York I loved nothing more than to tweet about our generosity or our prayer for the city. I loved nothing more than celebrating our mercy. When I lead teams to Cambodia I spent time showing the world what we were doing. I conveniently forgot Jesus ever said this.
I wonder how Jesus would feel about RAKnominations as a trend within churches. I think He would love the kindness, He would celebrate the mercy, and he would encourage greater generosity. I do wonder though if we would suggest we put our phones away and log out of twitter. I think he may challenge us to go further with our kindness but to draw back from the internet.
Let me say it again, I want to celebrate the kindnesses people are showing, but I wonder if we can do better. I wonder if we can nominate other people by text or by private message. I wonder if there is something much more powerful about an invisible act of kindness.
So what do you think; am I being ridiculous or is there something in this?