Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
February 9, 2011

ElShaheeed and iPhone confession

Wael Ghonim is ElShaheeed. According to today’s Newsweek website, the Google executive has confirmed that he was the anonymous force behind the Facebook page which sparked the revolt in Egypt.

“ElShaheeed” means “the martyr” in Arabic. Ghonim made this title his Facebook name as he built a page in memory of Khaled Said, a young man allegedly beaten to death by police last summer. Using the page, he called for the initial protest on January 25. As the page’s following approached 400,000 people, it hosted a constant stream of calls for all Egyptians to join the movement. For weeks reporters have wondered about the identity of the person who sparked the revolution. Now we know.

Mr. Ghonim was detained by Egyptian authorities on the morning of January 28. His wife and two children had no idea where he was. He was released Monday and has become an international celebrity. As Time reports, he is adverse to such publicity: “I ask you, really, please don’t turn me into a hero. I am not a hero, okay? I am not a hero. I am a very ordinary person. The heroes are the ones in the street.”

Hold that thought as you consider this news: an iPhone app has been created to help you confess your sins. Time’s website tells us about Confession: A Roman Catholic App. The app invites users to examine their consciences and confess their sins. It doesn’t offer absolution, however, something only a priest can do. The company which created the app claims it has already helped one person come back to the church after 20 years away.

I should be grateful for anything which helps people take their next step to God. There was a time when a devotional sent by email would probably have seemed avant-garde. But I’m struck by the contrast between the Egyptian revolt and the latest spiritual technology. Americans prize user-friendly convenience, at the mall and at church. In our culture the consumer is king.

In the Bible, God is the King and we are his subjects. He orders Noah to build an ark though the project takes 100 years to complete. He tells Moses to risk his life by standing up to Pharaoh. He calls the children of Israel to leave their home of the last 400 years and to follow him to a Promised Land they’ve never seen. He orders priests into the flooded Jordan River and sends a shepherd boy to fight a giant.

Jesus calls successful businessmen to leave their homes and join his movement. He sends a Pharisee to preach to the Gentiles and his best friend to prison on Patmos. Now he calls you and me to submit our lives to his rule and glory (Romans 12:1-2).

Revolutions are made of such sacrifice. When last did it cost you something significant to follow Jesus?


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