Reading through METRO newspaper today in the train, I saw an advertisement feature captioned ‘Lost in a virtual world?’ by NUTMEG: The digital wealth manager. I heard the Holy Spirit saying to me to spare a moment and reflect on the caption in such a season as this. NUTMEG is very right, many are lost in a virtual world and using the words of Martyn Atkins, ‘lost people act lost.’ The truth is that, many who are lost in a virtual world are still acting lost. The question is how do the lost act in a virtual world? NUTMEG provides a picture of what it means to act lost. According to NUTMEG, ‘we spend so much time in the virtual world chasing new scores, levels or targets, that it’s easy to forget about important things in the real world – like our finances!’ From this statement, the lost spend so much time in the virtual world – for meetings, chasing new scores, policy, levels or target.
The lost easily forget about important things in the real world, not just achieving financial goals, but the real future that God has prepared for us as sojourners in this temporal world. The reflection is that you can achieve your financial and political goal and still be lost because the Bible says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). The reflection is, what shall it profit not just a man, but also the lost in a virtual world? The truth is that, no one can gain the whole world. The ambitious lost ones may try to gain the whole world because they are desirous.
The greatest lost is the lost of one’s soul because this temporal world and the glory will pass away. The world including the virtual world is only for a season with a great deal of trouble, division, plane crash, terrorists attack and many more. The soul continues of ever and ‘if it is lost and damned, its torment always abides, and the smoke of it ascends for ever, its worm never dies, and its fire is never quenched.’
The question is, who is lost? Pope Francis said, “Youth are lost in a ‘virtual world,’ instead of reality.’ Pope is ‘worried that youth are too enmeshed in a virtual world of cell phones and other technology, separated, in particular, from the real human contact experienced by performing works of mercy.’ Sydney Odell, a Multimedia Journalist in one of his publication on ‘Lost in a virtual world: Technology disconnect from reality explained that ‘while connecting students to their friends and family in the virtual world, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are disconnecting students from the real world.’ The world is lost as people increasingly have more confidence in their online persona than in real life. We are in a time when our identities are closely linked with technology. The emergence of virtual worlds goes together with its promises and perils for the church. The virtual church creates a more open environment but anyone can be lost in such an environment devoid of accountability. The challenge to the church today is that if NUTMEG, the digital wealth manager are on mission to bring real world wealth management to everyone, the church must arise above virtual church to bring the Good News to the real world through discipleship. The call by NUTMEG for the people to ‘leave the virtual world behind for a moment … to start your investment journey resonates with Transfiguring Lent and call to everyone to leave the virtual world behind in order to start and engage anew in eternal journey with the Lord. Bob Hyatt’s explanation on the role of online churches and worship communities is very helpful in our conclusion. Hyatt’s argument which resonates with Pope France is that ‘while an online church community can reproduce many of the things that define a true church, they simply cannot replicate the low-key but critical face-to-face interaction from which real, everyday Christian ministry springs.’ Transfiguring Lent offers the lost church, lost nations, lost homes, lost marriages and lost relationships in a virtual world to be healed through mutual engagement with God and one another.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we see the example of the lost church, home or nations, ‘the Blind leading the Blind,’ turning their back on sound doctrine and turning towards the sinful elements of the virtual world, ‘as to not offend nor cause an uproar among the people’ (1 Cor 8:10-13). In a virtual world of today, we see many people, including members and ministers, who have lost their first love to God. Transfiguring Lent offers a time of repentance and renewal to rescue the perishing and the lost in a virtual world. The lost church or the lost in the church are not truly lost but confused and self sufficient, hence the need for repentance.