This article was originally posted just about eight years ago. It still rings true.
You probably have never heard of the town of Bethsaida. It was hometown to Peter, Andrew, and Philip-all disciples of Jesus. You have most likely heard of them.
But, it is entirely unlikely that you have ever heard of the Bub Gong, the prophet from Bethsaida.
Remember the kid with the five barley loaves and two small fishes who generously assisted in the feeding of the multitudes? That was Bub from Bethsaida.
Bub was so impressed with the Lord that day that he decided to emulate the Master. He traveled all around performing all the good works that he had seen Jesus do. Bub was a fine story-teller; he matched the skills of Jesus in taking a metaphor from the daily lives of people and transforming it into a story. Because of this gift of story, Bub was an honored guest for a meal throughout the land. It seemed as if some of the miracle-worker of the Lord must have rubbed off on Bub. Therefore, he could restore the temporary health of hope to the ill.
Bub Gong used all the technology of the day available to a spiritual guru. Yet, you never heard of him. Bub was doing all the right things, yet seemed to have no disciples or evangelists to carry on the message. Where did Bub go wrong?
More precisely, where did Bub not go right? It turns out that Bub was so impressed with the miracle of the loaves and fishes, he never understood the message of the Lord. Truly, there is a lesson in that for each of us who attempt to transmit faith to today’s young people while using all the cool gadgets and toys of the day.
We can be as talented as possible in the use of modern technology and media-utilizing Power Point or YouTube or updating our MySpace pages-and still end up just like Bub. The real tools of the Lord were his relationships and his invitation into discipleship. It’s not the flashy glitz that works; it is the love one has to share.
Pope Benedict XVI has us refocusing on God is Love. Even today’s business professionals are rediscovering the suggestion of author Tim Saunders that Love is the Killer Ap. This is where Bub from Bethsaida never really “got it.”
Bub just never understood that, for Jesus, it was all about a self-less love for the Father as well as for one’s neighbor. Without that, there is something empty in one’s ministry, no matter how gifted one might be with the technology of the ministry. Later in Bub’s rather mediocre ministry (which had then moved to Corinth,) the Christian apostle Paul of Tarsus offered this critique of Bub, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding Gong or a clashing cymbal.”
As we continue to expand our use of technology within the field of youth ministry, let us remember (because no one else will!) the lessons learned from resounding but empty noise made by Bub Gong, the mediocre prophet from Bethsaida.