Pastor’s Perspective – July 2021
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
Jesus of Nazareth
It has never been easier to lose your soul.
I see it happen every day, and personally struggle against the temptation to abandon my own soul at least once per week.
The recent inclusion of Juneteenth as a national holiday reminds us of the slow pace of information and communications in the recent past. Juneteenth celebrates the date of June 19, 1865, as the day in which news of emancipation reached freed slaves in Texas and other western regions. We too easily forget that the time between declaration and enforcement was less easily achieved in the past. In a world in which a Presidential tweet can circumnavigate the globe in nanoseconds, it is hard to remember a time in which we received life-changing news months after the events occurred.
The speed and access by which information travels has transformed the way in which we live our lives. Instantaneous tele-communication has become so readily available to us that we can watch a grandchild play little league baseball through a Facebook live stream while travelling in Europe. Streaming services has allowed people to tail-gate at the stadium while worshipping with our local Churches. In a world that is so easily connected it is hard to remember the wonder of watching the Beatles play “All You Need is Love” on the world’s first worldwide satellite broadcast on June 25, 1967.
For all of our complaints and concerns about modern life, we must remember that we live in a veritable wonderland that would have been considered magical less than one hundred and fifty years ago. Air-conditioning was considered a luxury item reserved for the uber-rich less than fifty years ago, today it is considered an essential item in every new home or apartment complex. We are the recipients of advancements and wonders that would have been considered gifts from the gods in previous generations, but today we only acknowledge their very existence when the power goes out.
It is so easy to lose your soul because each of us holds the whole of the world in our hands every hour of every day. We have opportunities that the men and women of Jesus’ time could never have imagined. Poor people in America have luxuries that the very wealthiest men in the entire world would have given their fortunes to possess. What would Alexander the Great have done with satellite imagery and instant telecommunications with his troops? Imagine Napoleon Bonaparte with drones delivering supplies to his troops in Russia? Or the Apostle Paul with a twitter account? What could Leonardo da Vinci conceive of and create with modern computer technology? What happens when technology ushers in an age of egalitarian miracles to a people who just shrug their shoulders and complain about intermittent zoom signals and unequal access to 5g technology?
Now consider that we have unlimited access to the most powerful texts and wisdom encompassing the span of the human history, and yet we use this power to swipe left and right on tinder and create tik-tok dance videos.
Consider the media that you consume every day. The video library of the typical American with basic cable and internet access is embarrassing. We download, stream, search, and consume mountains of literature and fiction every month. We have access to instant news and commentary within moments of national and international events.
The scripture tells that we will be judged based on our knowledge. Those who know the truth are judged in a different way from those who have not heard the truth of God. What does this mean for those of us who have had unlimited access to the truths of God but have simply spent our lives in pastimes and distractions? How will we feel when the Angel Gabriel reads us our internet search history and twitter feed at the Throne of Judgement?
In an age in which we have found a way to complain about the genitalia with which we were born and the technology to transform the physical properties of a human being, can we all just take a moment and contemplate whether we are living our lives in accordance with the great gifts in which we have received?
Is it possible that we have not been failed by the system, but that we have spent so much of our collective capital and energy tilting at artificial windmills and distractions that we have ignored the incredible tools and opportunities that lay dormant before us?
We are a part of the first generation of human beings who can literally worship, sing, play, or dance with any other living person in the world. We are a part of the first generation who can watch a grandson get married from a hospital room or participate in a city council meeting while under quarantine. Yet we still play solitaire alone on our phones and complain that we have no one with whom we can talk.
At some point we are going to have to take responsibility for how we have spent our time and lived our lives. If finishing a Netflix series has become a part of your “to-do” lists, then maybe we have made a wrong turn as a people.
The good news is that we don’t have to live this way. We can repent and turn back to God and the world in which God desires for us to live. This does not mean we have to abandon the technological gifts we have inherited. But we should consider new ways in which to use these powerful gifts to reach out in love and care for those around us. Imagine the ability to be pen pals with hundreds if not thousands of people around the world without the need to worry about postage costs. Imagine being able to bless your classmates with a positive message on Facebook or a prayer on twitter. Imagine transforming HOW you interact with your world.
What if your search history including finding families that have experienced hardships and sending them an email, a text or a photo message telling them you are praying for them today? What if we flipped the script and flooded twitter and social media with positive messages? What if we used dating sites to tell people how beautiful they were without the sexual messages and content? Can we find new ways to be decent, loving and kind to each other?
I believe that we are being judged for our inability to receive the blessings of our moment with humility and charity. I also believe that once we accept responsibility for our own conduct, once we repent of our own behaviors, then we will see how easy it is to fix the problem. Stop adding to the toxicity of our world. Stop supporting the things that coarsen our culture. Stop giving your time and money to sinful past times and worthless garbage. Then use the time that you have now gained to add something good to the world. Do something for a neighbor. Share a meal with an old classmate. Send a text to a different friend or family member each day telling them why you love them and that you are praying for them. Imagine how much better the world would be if every person swallowed one bitter comment each day, and instead shared one blessed word to the world.
It can be done. You can be a part of it. Let’s change the world.