Physical Significance

Our bodies fail us.


Last week, I spoke about Sam Allberry’s book, 'What God Has to Say about Our Bodies?' Allberry reflects on the significance our ‘embodiment’ has on how we relate online, although not the focus or large portion of the book, its significance today is more relevant than ever. He says, ‘We can all to easily ‘de-humanize’ those who are not around us.’


Covid brought home, in an unmissable way to all of us, just how much we need a physical presence. We all hate Zoom, but thank God for it, because it was better than nothing. What was clear to all of us, however, was there was something different about being in a room with people – to sharing a screen.


The warmth of having dinner and catching up, the realness and even the misspeaks easily forgiven in the moment, compared to the cold rabbit hole of consuming each other’s stories, the flakiness and unforgiveness of a Facebook or Instagram story...


Even the writer of 2 John says, 'I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete'. That there will be something lacking in his joy until he is physically there with them.

Where that ‘embodiment’ with one another is missing. We find ourselves saying things online or thinking about those we interact with online, in ways that we would never speak about them or to them if we were sitting across the table from them.


James says in James 3 that 'we praise God with the same tongue we use to curse someone made in God’s image'. Perhaps Allberry suggests, in our era, it is not so much our tongues but our thumbs.


We are far less aware of how our words will affect people or circumstances, and fail to see the fallout. The Bible is full of teaching about just how powerful our words can be, positively and negatively. The person we are interacting with online could be hanging by a thread, and maybe our words could be the words that give them enough life and hope to bring them back from the brink.


Two reflections going forward. Firstly, I want to push myself to gather with others in person even when I am tired and weary. I spoke with someone at church on Sunday who was exhausted, anxious and struggling to connect with the sermon or the songs due to feeling so emotionally flat. Until that is the final song, they glimpsed a friend across the room. Their friend’s state of worship, despite their own hardship, allowed connection and signaled the deeper truth; God travels with us in all seasons.


The second reflection is, in all of my words especially those I am writing online or about those online. I need to work hard(er) to be gracious, to express love and compassion. To type and speak as one who speaks the very words of God (1 Peter 4:11).


Jamie Mackenzie

Assistant Minister




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