Whoever Loses His Network: Beyond Fear & Anxiety in Networked Individualism

BY:

 

by Andrew Zirschky, Ph.D.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of Dr. Andrew Zirschky’s book Beyond the Screen: Youth Ministry for the Connected But Alone Generation, published in 2015 by Abingdon Press.

Teenagers live in fear of losing their network. The burden to build a network and the possibility of failing can give rise to self-protective action born of the fear that teens might find themselves abandoned, alone, and disconnected. Networked individuals “cannot depend on the goodwill or social control of a solidary community. Instead, they must actively search and manipulate their separate ties, one by one, to deal with their affairs.”[1] As has been noted, a personal network only exists by the successful effort of the person who builds and maintains it. Building one’s network and acquiring social resources “depends substantially on personal skill, individual motivation, and maintaining the right connections.”[2] However, what happens if the person fails? While some have focused on the joys of a well-built network, others have observed that constructing an egocentric network sometimes results in bitter failure.[3] It is possible, says Howard Rheingold, to be enriched or to “be exploited and alienated” by one’s attempts to use social media to build a personal network.[4] But if you are “doing favors and reciprocating signals to the network that you are worth doing favors for” then fears of being alone and abandoned are mitigated, writes Rheingold.[5]

True or not, this advice does not actually alleviate the anxiety of losing one’s network, it merely prescribes an outlet for the anxiety through the frenetic activity of keeping in constant contact with members of one’s network. “Feed the people who follow you” writes Rheingold.[6] “If you want help in the future, help somebody now. Pay it forward,” suggests Wellman.[7]

For young people navigating the waters of extra-familial relationality for the first time, this survival-of-the-fittest approach to community can send them into a panic of frenetic activity. Creating a constant stream of online content, whether posts, pictures or comments, becomes a primary way for many teenagers to maintain network members and acquire social support. While creating a “feed of life” can be undertaken in an attempt at intimacy (as we discussed in chapter 3), it can also be undertaken out of a manic need to keep the network interested and engaged. Youth ages 12 to 17 lead the way as creators of content on the Internet with nearly all of them sharing content in some form, whether pictures, videos, blog posts, tweets, or status updates.[8] According to Pew researchers, “Profile pictures are particularly critical, with some focus group participants participating in elaborate rituals to maximize the visibility in others’ newsfeeds and hence the number of ‘likes’ of their profile picture.”[9] The constant production of updates, photos and messages keeps a teenager’s face before his networked audience, and there is a pressure for this to occur repeatedly, consistently, perpetually lest the audience turn its attention elsewhere.

There is an urgency, then, to stay fresh, interesting and different, and this contributes to the anxiousness of young people in a networked society. “It’s so competitive to get the most likes [on a Facebook picture]. It’s like your social position,” said one 15-year-old Pew research focus group participant.[10] Fail to please the audience and you might find yourself without an audience. Lose the audience and you have lost your network. Lose the network, and at some level you lose the community that affirms and creates your very identity.

Content creation is not the only strategy teenagers can use to keep their network audience engaged. Some teens become obsessed with quickly replying to messages received as a way to demonstrate their value to network members. At the same time, making a quick response reduces the teenager’s anxiety that their friends might slip away. 15-year old Kara is one who has dropped friends who don’t respond in a timely fashion to messages, “When someone doesn’t text me back, I feel stupid, and regret sending the text,” she said.[11] Consequently, when friends message her, she feels the pressure to respond immediately—within minutes—and “definitely within at least 30 minutes,” she said. These time restrictions flow from the fear that if one does not constantly assert one’s personal value to networked ties, then they’ll slip away and find connection with others who respond quickly and are available when they come calling.

There’s been considerable discussion about how some of this behavior flows from the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)—the need to know what’s happening and to be a part of it. In research with young people psychologist Larry Rosen discovered that “Three-fourths of teens and young adults check their devices every 15 minutes or less and if not allowed to do so get highly anxious.”[12] In fact, he argues teenagers are developing compulsive anxiety disorders driven by their FOMO.[13] However, such behavior also flows from the Fear of Losing Out (FOLO)—the fear that ultimately one’s friends and acquaintances will move on and desert them if the person is off the grid or unreachable. The fear of nothingness, of being forgotten, and having no one is paramount in the lives of adolescents who can sense in real ways that the total lack of relationship is total death.

All of this suggests that networked individualism functions on a sort of karmic “you will get what you give” kind of basis. As such, it is far different from the operating system of grace upon which the church as the body and koinonia of Christ is meant to operate.[14] God’s grace functions by repeatedly and continually giving others what they do not deserve. In an economy of grace, finding a place in community is a grace received, not an accomplishment of the self. It turns out that it is one thing to be the author of your own network, and quite another to be a member of the Body of Christ. If we hope to minister to youth in networked society, then they must be invited into a community that operates according to a different ethic—one that sets youth free from the self-focused anxiety that networked individualism creates.

Banishing the Fear of Abandonment

To understand how the communion offered by God contrasts the anxiety of networked individualism, we must return to the very nature of the Trinity. Moltmann contends that the Trinity is fundamentally open, which means that the love of the divine persons is capable of seeking out, indwelling and drawing others into the relationships of the divine life. In the experience of the Spirit, God comes to dwell in us.[15] As Jesus is understood as God with us (Immanuel), so Moltmann understands the Holy Spirit as “God in us” (and in the world)—the Spirit of Jesus that is able to indwell humanity, even teenagers.[16] In the pouring out of the love of God into our hearts, the Holy Spirit is not merely applied to our lives, but “we experience the reciprocal perichoresis of God and ourselves.”[17] We are thus transformed in this experience, not by the Spirit of Christ doing something to us (as happened in the Creation), but by dwelling in us. We are enfolded into the life of God, and God becomes enfolded into ours: “God participates in our transitory life, and we participate in the eternal life of God.”[18] Such an experience can be described as presence or communion.

Though at first pass such an assertion might seem wild, it is perfectly consistent with what we learned earlier concerning Paul’s statements about Christian koinonia: Christians share in the very “life-principle” and living existence of Christ; his life becomes our life, and our existence becomes entwined with his.[19] Moltmann is merely helping us see the implications of Paul’s statement in Trinitarian perspective. We are, through the Spirit of Christ, accepted into the “cycle of divine relationships and the mutual indwellings of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.” Far from building our own network of belonging, the overflowing loving presence of God incorporates us into the perichoretic network of God.[20]

Consequently, youth are graced with an experience of communal presence; it is not an accomplishment they must seek, rather the Spirit of Christ incorporates them into the eternal fellowship of divine persons. The overwhelming love of God, poured out in the presence of the Spirit, assures teenagers that they are not alone, and that they have a place and a security in God. In this, they find an experience of community that doesn’t arise from a network built by their own efforts. Through the Spirit they are incorporated into a community that is not fleeting and will not be dissolved—and teenagers do not have to fear that they will be discarded, or that their network community will be lost. As such, in the Spirit, the process of being released from the anxious self-concern for accomplishing the networked self begins.

“That sounds lofty,” a parent of a teenager recently told me after listening to this explanation. “But I don’t see many people—much less teenagers—being released from their anxiety by having some kind of lovey-dovey, mystical experience with the Holy Spirit.” Good point. But I’m not suggesting (and neither is Moltmann) that teenagers need some solitary or purely spiritual experience of the Spirit that suddenly releases them from the fear and anxiety produced by networked individualism. Rather, it is quite likely that teenagers will first experience the persistent and unstoppable love and presence of God through the concrete actions and presence of the church as the communion of Christ. The church participates in the divine life as we are enfolded into the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, young people may come to experience the penetrating presence of the Spirit of Love through the people who are communion together in the Spirit—namely, the church living as koinonia.[21]

This is what Kari and Savannah experienced through their church in southern Idaho in the years leading up to their encounter with Daisy. They both had been surrounded and graced by people who loved and cared for them without regard for their status or accomplishments. Their place in this community was not secured by their efforts. Neither was it sustained by their ability to keep the members of this church interested in them. In contrast to attracting a network audience, their experience of community did not depend “substantially on personal skill or individual motivation” or anything they did.[22] Neither did their experience of community depend on “doing favors and reciprocating signals to the network that [they were] worth doing favors for.”[23] It wasn’t through their regular attendance, their contributions, or anything else that Kari and Savannah experienced the embrace and love of God through this congregation. It wasn’t even through family affiliation; though Kari had grown up in the church, Savannah had only attended for a few years on her own without her parents. That didn’t stop her from being loved in the youth ministry, and by church members of all ages. The church they attended was intentional about making sure that people of all ages were known and incorporated in the life of the church. The youth minister along with the rest of the pastoral staff had worked diligently to create a culture in which teenagers were welcomed and loved by all. The effort to see all congregants as sharers in Christ Jesus had caught on to the degree that it was not uncommon for older congregants to approach teenagers and to adopt them as their own.

As a result, Kari and Savannah were released from the fear of being alone, and the anxiety of keeping the community interested in them. They experienced belonging in a community that had not been assembled by their efforts; neither would it be dissolved by their failures. They had little anxiety or fear that there was anything they could do to lose their community because they had done nothing to gain its love in the first place. This opened Kari and Savannah to do something radical for Daisy.

Releasing Our Energies

When we experience the Spirit’s loving presence, the result is a rehabilitation that opens us to God and others and makes it possible for us to be fully present with and for others in love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).[24] Through the love and presence of God, “unfree, closed, introverted people are opened” to live in communion together.[25] In the presence of the Spirit, we are enabled to release our energies from self-preservation, privilege, personal advancement—all activities born of fear and anxiety—and it is possible to expend these energies on others.

The experience of being incorporated into the life of God, and the communion of Christ, releases us from anxiety and fear. It is also the Holy Spirit at work in communion that replaces our self-protective impulses with love.[26] In communion, the anxiety and fear born out of a need for self-protection are replaced by trust and embrace by others. In the experience of communion we find the freedom to entrust the self as a gift to others and to be fully present with them.

This freedom is both a “freedom from” and a “freedom for.[27] First, it is free from anxious achievement of oneself, free from compulsion to pursue one’s own interests and needs. Second, it’s a freedom for the other; a freedom to be truly present with the other without concern for one’s self-achievement and security. One is free to give of oneself for another; truly free to both give and receive love. Being released from the need to accomplish the self, to gain validity and status, youth are thus free to truly be present with others. They are set free for relationality and for presence with and within others.

When Kari and Savannah experienced the unmerited love of God in tangible ways through their congregation, they were released from the anxiety and fear of building their own networked community. They also found themselves freed to love others. Previously, they had been fearful of loving students like Daisy because they feared being snubbed by the in-crowd. But as they grew deeper into the life of their congregation and experienced incredible love and acceptance, they were released from these anxieties. That doesn’t mean they didn’t lose friends when they started hanging out with Daisy—they did—rather, they experienced that their personal value and identity arose from the communion of Christ, not from their network of school friends. The love of God and the radical belonging they experienced in their church prepared them and released them to take a bold stand alongside Daisy and pour their energy and attention into her.

Epicletic Practices of Social Equality

Determining what practices youth ministries and congregations might undertake to relieve the anxiety produced by networked individualism can be difficult. However, when teenagers who are convinced that their belonging is based upon performance encounter a community of social equality, they often are able to release their anxiety because they experience that their performance isn’t the source of their belonging.

Practices of the church that subvert the common markers of difference (or perceived social usefulness and value) such as class, ethnicity, wealth, education or age can become epicletic cries for the Spirit’s communion-making power. Through such practices, the Spirit can convict us of our biases, challenge our conceptions of the capabilities of others, nourish our love for one another, transform our ways of being together, and call us to repentance for our acts of prejudice and subjugation.

In any human social grouping it is a common activity (often subconscious) to designate “differences that signify” and to determine a pecking order, or to place a value on others based upon certain markers. In a community of social equality, people are not granted status and given love based upon markers of social significance. Rather, they are loved because they are sharers with Christ, and thus sharers, partners, members—one body—with us.

Christian communion is marked by radical equality not secured by one’s usefulness or desirability, but by the interpenetrating, self-giving love of Christ in whom all share equally. Communion is a matter of being part of the body of Christ; we are affirmed as indispensible—but this is a kind of indispensability to which we are unaccustomed. We are indispensible because Christ has included us, because Christ’s life and love embraces us, rather than being indispensible because of what we produce or the value that we add to others. This is an indispensability that banishes the fear and anxiety youth encounter in networked society.

In youth ministry we often establish markers by which we create a social hierarchy. Attendance. Bible memory. Service. Teenagers quickly learn that they can earn our love and affection by checking these boxes, and in turn, these are often the students who get the bulk of our attention. It’s a natural impulse to give attention and status to those students who attend frequently, or whose presence makes our events great. We quite naturally gravitate to these students and shower them with unequal attention and opportunity because their presence boosts our attendance numbers and this makes us feel good. They effectively earn our attention by keeping themselves in front of us—something not too dissimilar to keeping themselves in front of their network audience. On the flipside, students learn that after a few weeks of absence— and maybe receiving a postcard or two inviting them to return—we’ll effectively drop them from our network. They’ll be marked “inactive” or, in some ministries, even purged from the rolls.

Our continued love and care for young people, even when they haven’t earned it through attendance or involvement is in itself an epicletic practice of social equality. It signals that the love of the Christian koinonia for them is not based upon their performance, or fulfilling obligations, but is purely overflow of the love of Christ.

During my tenure as a youth director at a Presbyterian church in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I had one family, the DeJardins, whose three teenagers I could not convince to attend youth group or any youth functions. All three students were painfully shy, and their parents were nervous about them attending youth events. Over the course of more than two years I’m not sure they darkened the door of youth group more than once. After the fourth or fifth personal plea to attend, I stopped pestering them, but I decided not to stop checking in on them. In the past I had just stopped giving time and attention to those whom I knew would never attend. But with the DeJardin kids, I decided to treat them as if they were the anchors of the youth ministry. If the family attended Sunday worship, I’d seek them out and great them warmly. I’d write personal notes on the calendars we sent to their house. I attended the graduation of the oldest DeJardin daughter and snapped the family picture. Never once did they attend my youth ministry functions, but I didn’t care. I treated them in the same fashion as the most committed youth in my ministry, because their place and value as brothers and sisters in Christ was not secured by their support for my activities, but by their status as sharers in Christ Jesus. When I left that church, among the stack of letters and cards, I received one from the DeJardins, sharing how the love they experienced through the youth ministry had shaped the faith of their teenagers.

If we are to live as the koinonia of Christ, then we need to stop loving youth because of their leadership ability, or the value they add to our small groups and events. We need to move beyond valuing youth based upon their musical abilities, or their singing voices. We need to move beyond valuing youth because of their social standing at school, or their ability to attract others teens to our ministries because they’re part of the “cool crowd.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with recognizing the gifts and abilities of teenagers, but if we’re honest we quickly learn in youth ministry to shower the “useful” teenagers with special attention and care.

We need to become self-reflective about the way in which we value youth for their performance or contributions in youth ministry, and choose to bestow attention on teenagers who have done nothing to earn our praise. This can become an epicletic practice of social equality that actively works against the anxiety of networked individualism even as it calls for the Holy Spirit to bind us together as a people who refuse to operate according the to the social hierarchies of the world around us. We must actively combat the idea that young people will find a place in the church by attracting the attention, doing the right thing, or being a “good kid.” When we value teenagers based on these things, we fail to challenge the dominant social operating system, and we effectively tell teenagers that they must keep their network audience interested and engaged if they hope to be valued in our midst. The love of God, communicated through the Body of Christ, is not earned through performance, but is graced on account of Christ.

The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is intended to be an epicletic practice whereby we recognize our equality as we eat of one bread and cup as we cry out to the Spirit to be transformed as the body of Christ. In speaking with college students about their experiences of the Lord’s Supper, a common thread is the way in which the ritual can be experienced as, in the words of one student, the “Great Equalizer” that breaks down class, age, economic, and other social barriers. A college student from San Diego told me:

I think there are times that you go to church where [you] are just painfully aware that they’re not people you would hang out with under any other circumstance, and I often feel that at the beginning of a service, or when I first get there, and I never really notice those feelings after. I think there’s something really cool about the church, and then also the celebration of Eucharist, that is sort of the great equalizer.[28]

Of course, as we learned in 1 Corinthians, not all celebrations of the Lord’s Supper function this way, rather it is important to be intentional in celebrating the meal in ways that proclaim the equality of those partaking. This can be one form of an epicletic practice of social equality.

Another way for congregations to engage in this type of epicletic practice is to emphasize the equality of ages and generations as the work of the Spirit. The fact that our youth ministries operate as separated spheres from the larger congregation (what is commonly referred to as the One-Eared Mickey Mouse), or that young people are often excluded from leadership positions should concern us.[29] “A new equality of the generations arises in this outpouring of the life-giving Spirit. No one is too young, no one is too old; they are all the same in the reception of the Spirit,” writes Moltmann.[30] Practices that cry to the Holy Spirit in longing for an equality of ages might take numerous forms inside and outside the congregation. Many congregations could begin by repentantly changing policies that prevent young people from serving on boards and committees. In other contexts, the practice of intentionally including and honoring members of each generation in weekly worship services could function as such an epicletic practice. In other contexts, emphasizing the care of shut-ins and the elderly as a priority of the congregation could serve as an epicletic practice. Pairing teenagers (banned from many shopping malls without adult supervision) with a senior adult (who needs help to shop) could be a more visible way of uniting the diversity of the body in equality outside the walls of the church. “The Spirit-filled fellowship of old and young, men and women, and masters and servants is in its very existence a witness to the world,” and indeed, it is a witness to youth in a networked world who through the communion of the church can experience belonging and community independent of usefulness, social status or age.[31]

*****

[1] Wellman, Networks in the Global Village, 26.

[2] Rainie and Wellman, Networked, 125.

[3] Ibid., Chapter 10.

[4] Rheingold, Net Smart, 211.

[5] Ibid., 227.

[6] Ibid. The way we “feed” members of our network, says Rheingold is “by sharing value when you find or create it, whether it is informational, social or entertainment value.”

[7] Wellman as quoted in Rheingold, Net Smart, 217.

[8] The percentage of teens engaged in each form of these content creations varies greatly. For example, as few as 16% of teens may tweet, while 91% share photos. All of these activities, however, are considered forms of content creation and sharing. See Amanda Lenhart, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, Kathryn Zickuhr, “Social Media and Young Adults,” Pew Research Center, Feb. 3, 2010.

[9] The Pew researchers described one ritual in this way: “As one focus group participant described it, when pictures are posted, at first individuals do not tag themselves. Only when some time has elapsed, and the picture has already accumulated some “likes,” will a user tag themselves or friends. The new tagging causes the photo to once again show up in news feeds, with the renewed attention being another opportunity to gather more “likes.” See, Pew Research Center, Teens, Social Media & Privacy, May 2013.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Personal conversation via Facebook chat, June 28, 2013. Name has been changed to obscure identity.

[12] Larry Rosen, “Driven to Distraction: Our Wired Generation,” in The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Virginia, 13 November 2012.

[13] See Rosen, iDisorder.

[14] “The overwhelming direct cause of reciprocity is giving support in the first place” in Plickert, Gabriele, Rochelle R. Cote, and Barry Wellman. “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s How You Know Them: Who Exchanges What With Whom?” in Social Networks 29(3) (2007): 405-429.

[15] “The Spirit of God dwells in you,” (Romans 8:9, NRSV). In receiving the Spirit, we do not receive “a detached counterpart” that floats along with us, a conscience, a moral arbiter or spiritual guide; rather, in the experience of the Spirit, God is “all-embracing presence,” says Moltmann (The Spirit of Life, 196). To explain this Moltmann appeals to Romans 5:8, which states that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (NRSV). This pouring out of love, says Moltmann, is in very actuality the indwelling of God: God is “‘in us’ and we ourselves are ‘in God’” (The Spirit of Life, 196). On this point, McDougall criticizes Moltmann for failing to distinguish between the perichoresis of the divine persons and the perichoresis that happens between God and persons (see Joy Ann McDougall, “A Room of One’s Own: Trinitarian Perichoresis as Analogy for the God-Human Relationship,” in Wo ist Gott? Gottesräume—Lebensräume, ed. Jürgen Moltmann and Carmen Rivuzumwami [Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2002], 133-141.) McDougall criticizes Moltmann’s conception of the Holy Spirit’s interaction with humans as perichoresis noting that there is difficulty in using a term that speaks about mutually constituting one another to describe the relationship between creatures and the creator. “Unless it is carefully qualified, the model of perichoresis belies this fundamental dependency that humans have upon their Creator,” writes McDougall (139). In short, it threatens to make humans mutually constitutive of God, thus threatening God’s freedom and aseity. However, this can be corrected by recognizing Moltmann’s use of perichoresis as analogical or metaphorical, not comprehensive.

[16] See Moltmann, God in Creation, 101-103. Here Moltmann also distinguishes pantheism, panentheism and his Trinitarian theology of the Spirit.

[17] Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 196.

[18] Ibid. This reciprocal indwelling is presupposed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, though there he discusses the intermingled life of God and humans shown forth by the reception of the bread of Christ. To help us grasp Moltmann’s contention for divine-human perichoresis through the Spirit, the Lord’s Supper acts as a helpful explanatory tool in this case: First, it is necessary to recognize that in eating the bread, we are not merely eating the body of Christ, but the very life of Christ. In reality, whenever we eat, something gives its life for us; the act of eating is always an intake of the life of another. When we eat of Christ, the self-giving life and love of Christ penetrates us, indwells us, and becomes present in us. We consume Christ’s life and it becomes our own; Christ dwells within us. Or, might we say that we dwell within Christ? For when I eat and drink of the life of Christ, what is it that now provides me life? Indeed, it is Christ’s life that courses through my veins and gives me life. Thus, in some ways it might be said that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, NRSV). “You are what you eat,” goes the old adage. Thus, while we might say that Christ is in me (Christ has entered me, become part of me), it turns out that it is equally true that I have entered Christ by becoming one empowered by Christ, a self that is animated by Christ, one who dwells in Christ for “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). What Paul says in almost the same breathe of Colossians 3:3-4 that “Christ is your life,” and “your life is with Christ in God” corresponds to the mutual indwelling, and the reciprocal presence that Moltmann intends to describe in saying that “God participates in our transitory life, and we participate in the eternal life of God” (The Spirit of Life, 196).

[19] 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.

[20] “The Spirit does not merely bring about fellowship with himself. He himself issues from his fellowship with the Father and the Son, and the fellowship into which he enters with believers corresponds to his fellowship with the Father and the Son, and is therefore a Trinitarian fellowship” (Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 237). “The salvation of creation consists in being accepted into the cycle of divine relationships and the mutual indwellings of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Their mutual indwelling includes men and women: ‘Whoever abides in love, abides in God and God in him’ (1 John 4:16)” (Moltmann, History and the Triune God, 87). Salvation is “gracious acceptance of the creature into communion with God.” It is worth noting that Moltmann understands sin as separation and salvation as coming to union with God, “gracious acceptance of the creature into communion with God.” Based upon 1 John 4:16, which says that those who abide in love abide in God, Moltmann understands salvation Christologically in terms of the Son accepting humans into his relationship with the Father and additionally as the Holy Spirit bringing people to participate in the love and life of the Father and the Son.

[21] This is one reason why I’ve emphasized epicletic practices of the church throughout this entire book. Our practices can be oriented to call upon the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in order to communicate the love of God and draw young people into the life of the communion of Christ. To be clear, it is not the practices of the church that ultimately hold promise, but rather the presence of the Spirit communicated in and through the actions of the communion of people with whom the Spirit is present.

[22] Rainie and Wellman, Networked, 125.

[23] Ibid., 227.

[24] 1 John 4:19, NRSV. Moltmann takes as his starting point for the restoration of love the “human experience of being loved” (Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 249); emphasis mine. “Does the active love of human beings not first of all acquire its power, its attraction and the space in which it moves from the experience of being loved?” asks Moltmann (The Spirit of Life, 175). For Moltmann, reconciliation with God involves the penetrating presence of the Spirit of Love, thus freeing and restoring our ability to love God and other.

[25] Ibid. 211.

[26] The Holy Spirit is a “vitalizing energy,” and in receiving the indwelling, penetrating love of the Spirit of Life, we are enlivened (Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 195-196). The restoration is of the image of God in human beings. There are similarities here to John Wesley’s understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. Wesley understood the work of the Holy Spirit as enabling power for the “recovery of the image of God, a renewal of soul ‘after his likeness” (John Wesley, Sermon 12: Witness of our Spirit, Accessed on April 5, 2014, at http://www.seekingjesus.com/subpage11.html). Wesley spoke of God’s Spirit truly and continually working on our inner selves, not in terms of mere moral influence, but in terms of empowering and transforming grace. This ongoing work is “God’s breathing into the soul, and the soul’s breathing back what it first receives from God. . . .a continual action of God upon the soul, the re-action of the soul upon God; an unceasing presence of God” (John Wesley, Sermon 19: The Great Privilege of Those that are Born of God, http://www.wbbm.org/john-wesley-sermons/serm-019.html).

[27] The indwelling of the Spirit of Life is also the one who is “the freedom which allows everything to arrive at itself, in its own unique nature” (Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 220).

[28] Andrew Zirschky, “The Eucharist and Young Adults Project: An Exploration of the Meaning of Communion Practices in the Faith Lives of Nazarene Young Adults Ages 17 to 26,” unpublished manuscript.

[29] Stuart Cummings-Bond, “The One-Eared Mickey Mouse,” YouthWorker Journal (Fall 1989), 76.

[30] Moltmann, “Perichoresis,” 120.

[31] Ibid., 121.

COMMENTS

No comments found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

FEATURED DOWNLOAD

Talking About Racism With Your Youth & Congregation

BY:

Our youth want to be engaged and challenged with race and justice issues. And, we need to provide them a theological framework and opportunities to do so.  Here are some resources that have come to our attention we recommend as you explore these conversations with your youth, families, and congregations:

Take a Step in the Right Direction

BY:

Racism in America is a tragic reality.  It’s part of our history and unfortunately, it’s still evident in today’s world.  One of the things we can do as faithful Christians to fight racism is to grow in our own knowledge and understanding of those with different experiences than our own.  To help get you started, check out these resources...

Statement for Justice-June 4, 2020

BY:

The Center for Youth Ministry Training joins the millions of people around the country and the world crying out for justice.  We are praying for the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, for all impacted by racial injustice, and for all who are experiencing anger, fear, sorrow, and pain from these horrific incidents. We are concerned about how these killings and the deep divisions of our country are impacting all young people.