Circles

Church newsletter article for 25th September 2011

Even the non-internet-savvy amongst us will have heard of Google. This massive multi-national business is one of the success stories of the dot.com age, moving from being a simple yet highly successful search engine to one of the largest information providers and organisers on the web. They now provide not just the Google search engine, but also Gmail, their web-based email system, Picassa, a software suit which organises, edits and shares online digital photo collections and Blogger, a facility which enables you to make online journals through which your thoughts can be broadcast to the world. Recently they have begun creating laptops powered by their own operating system, Chrome.

This week one of their latest services was opened to the public, Google+. Google+ is a social networking tool related to Twitter and Facebook, but as we’ve come to expect from Google it’s simple and streamlined. The question everyone asked was how could they hope to compete with Facebook and Twitter which have dominated social networking on the web. The answer? Circles.

The idea is simple, we all move in circles of people: friends who share similar hobbies, workmates, family and so on. What we say to one circle we may well not want to share to another – do we really want our Mum to know what we were up to with our mates on a Friday night, let alone our boss! With Google+ you have the ability to differentiate which circle of contacts can read what you’ve just posted.

Reading the Gospels, Jesus obviously used Circles. Sometimes he mixed freely amongst the public, but he also had his circle of followers and within that the 12 disciples and his most intimate circle of friends of Peter, James and John. There is also the circle of the Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit living in unity. Here, however, Jesus’ circles depart from Google’s. The point of Google’s circles is to restrict relationship. With the Godhead, their desire is that their circle will be extended. We are all invited to be part of their ‘social network’.

…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [the disciples], that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)

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