No imposter showed up to abduct the little girl. It's likely the police cars would have scared her away.
Justin and Tracy, both educated professionals, had recently moved from St. Louis to a vibrant college town. They placed their 3-year-old daughter, we'll call her Abby, in a preschool. One day soon after, the preschool received a call from someone posing as Justin.
"There's been an emergency and we can't pick up Abby," the man said. "I'm sending a coworker. Abby doesn't really know her but be sure to check her I.D."
When Justin's work day was inadvertently — or providentially — cut short and he casually went to the preschool early to pick up his daughter, the children's workers expressed confusion. Police were immediately summoned.
Justin and Tracy were shaken and bewildered. The caller knew both their names. He knew their daughter's name and that she had just started at that preschool. He was aware they were new in town and didn't have family nearby to pick up Abby.
While there's no proof yet where the information was acquired, something occurred to them — they had posted all those facts on Facebook. Frightened for their little girl, the traumatized couple transferred her to a different school and hired a private investigator.
We live in a time of instant communication in which many of us reflexively post on Facebook everything from grumpy Monday morning moods to every innocuous personal activity. Such postings are disclosed to, in some cases, hundreds of "friends."
Ominously, it's possible one of those friends might not be what he or she appears. And depending on privacy settings, such postings might even be revealed to the general public. In view of this, perhaps it's worth considering some biblical principles of healthy communication boundaries.
Honesty and openness are biblical virtues. The New Testament asserts, "Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor..." (Ephesians 4:25). But this doesn't mean that all people need to know everything about us.
No one was more given to honesty and transparency than Jesus. But he was also wise as to what he revealed and to whom. Early in his ministry, we are told Jesus would not, at that particular time, disclose himself to the masses. "But Jesus, on his part, was not entrusting himself to them, for ... he himself knew what was in man" (John 2:24-25).
On the other hand, Jesus wisely determined with whom he would indeed build trusting relationships. During three years of mentoring his twelve disciples, he increasingly bore his heart to them. In his final, emotionally charged hours with the twelve just before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus told them that he no longer thought of their relationship as one of mere master-follower, "I have called you friends for everything I have learned from my Father" — which included the most intimate workings of his soul — "I have made known to you" (John 15:15).
His understanding of a true friend was one whom he could trust to disclose most everything. Jesus himself only had twelve such friends. And even one of these was not what he appeared.
Of course most of us don't disclose the depths of our soul on Facebook. Still, it might be worth pondering what we do disclose. If you think so, be sure to post this column. Your hundreds of intimate Facebook friends might also want to ponder.
Pastor Bob Levin serves at North County Community Church, 7410 Howdershell Road in Hazelwood. He can be reached at email@example.com.