For two frightful years in college, I was involved in student government. The Student Government Association, as it was called, usually debated issues of little import to outsiders. Each spring, however, the meeting room was packed as the organization debated the budgets for the student groups that received their primary funding from student fees. Cheapskate SGA members would question every nickel allocated in the proposed budgets.
One particularly memorable moment came when someone proposed eliminating one group’s budget for rejection letters: he argued that e-mail would be cheaper. He was nearly shouted down by people who thought this to be completely classless. At least one should give refused applicants the courtesy of a formal reply. They argued that a letter in the mail is far better than e-mail.
If a failed membership application is more politely handled by mail than e-mail, then shouldn’t more intimate relationships require a more personal ending?
Apparently they don’t have to—thanks to a new app that composes notes for break-ups by text message (SMS). While the breakup text generator is an admitted joke, its creators think the concept reflects reality. Jake Levine, co-creator of the app, told Fast Company, “As much as we did it as a joke, it has sort of captured a moment in time when tech is becoming more pervasive in our lives and relationships.”
Breaking up by prefabricated text message is a sign of tremendous disrespect, something that one could do only if one thought the other was insignificant to oneself. Certainly this is not the attitude of someone who loves his neighbor as himself, but it even seems cold from a worldly perspective. Technology has enabled us to treat others as insignificant creatures made for our amusement. Yet God, compared to whom everyone is insignificant, never treats people this way. God, who could thrust us out of existence, never sends us a flippant message to announce his parting ways from our side. Instead, God constantly calls his people back.
Take the Ninevites for example. The wickedness of Nineveh was great enough that God was prepared to wipe them from the earth, but, rather than send a text message, God sends them a prophet. Jonah warns them of God’s impending wrath and they repent, sparing the city.
God does not want to reject us. Though we may coolly dismiss others we have grown tired of, God’s rejection is meant to motivate repentance. He goes beyond even the courtesy of a printed letter: like the landlord who needed to collect from wicked tenants, God sent us his son (Lk 20:9-19, Mk 12:1-12, and Mt 21:33-46). Although God has no need of us, he embraces us so deeply that he will not simply discharge us with a terse note. With God even his anger shows his mercy and love. May it be the same with us.
Image: Separation, Edvard Munch