We have become accustomed to instant worldwide communication. We see images from across the globe of events as they are happening. We send a text or an e-mail that can be read moments later anywhere in the world. This is the marvel of our electronic age. In another sense we’ve always had a communication tool, even greater then this, always available. Jesus used one of His parables “to show that at all times (we) ought to pray and not to lose heart…” (Luke 18:1) Prayer is a more effective communications tool than all the electronic devices we have. It reaches beyond all barriers, and is not dependent upon any battery or power source except faith in our one true God. Prayer has reached to the depth of the person standing next to us, and to the one who is half way around the world. Prayer has brought healing, strength, encouragement, and new life like no text or e-mail could ever do. Be encouraged to pray and trust the One who knows us and loves us to the depth of our being.
The ubiquitous telephone! It has become an appendage for almost everyone. But I think it is a communication tool that detracts from real communication. Don’t get me wrong. I like my phone, the ability to communicate a quick message and get a quick response. Our modern communication tools are helpful, but there is no way to get to know someone in a 140 character Tweet, or an even briefer text. A friend of mine stopped by the other day. We sat in the living room and talked for more than an hour. My wife went out with a girl friend for lunch on Friday. Two and a half hour later she returned. That is communicating. That is sharing lives and bonding together in valuable relationships. That is what our Lord created us to do. We are to be a part of one another, and to be there to support one another. Phones are helpful, but let’s not neglect real communication. Oh, and by the way, let’s not treat our prayers like a phone call. Take your time with our Lord.
It is interesting to think about what is happening as I sit typing at this computer. The simple equipment on my desktop has become a portal to the world. What I write can be read in virtually every country of the world. That doesn’t mean that what I write is either good, true, or worth reading. It is just out there with the multiple millions of other writings. However, it is a powerful tool that our Lord has given us to reach out with His truth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the multiple voices there is a lot of confusion, but it has always been the work of God, the Holy Spirit, to reach individual hearts with His truth. It is God alone who can cut through the confusion of this world and bring new life to hearts. We pray that we use the tools God has given us in the most effective manner, and guided by His Scriptures, but the results are always the Lord’s. He alone is the source and means of life.
I follow a blog fairly regularly by a fellow named Kenneth who is traveling around the country, and later Europe, visiting coffee shops, and having conversations with a large variety of people. His conversations are providing a wonderful cross section of modern life. He remarked the other day how much the world is different now than years ago, and because of all the texting, etc. people are more disconnected today. They seem to be connected because of all the communication, but lack the personal face to face contact. Electronics are sterile, impersonal, easily able to hide behind. What strikes me from his coffee house visits is the number of people who are willing to sit down with him, in most cases a perfect stranger, and pour out some details of their lives for one, two, or three hours at a time. There really must be a sense of loss at that personal contact. Nothing replaces looking into another person’s eyes, a strong hand shake, or a warm hug. I decry such changes in our world, but maybe this says something that the church needs to take seriously. This is a human contact that we can certainly provide in showing the love of Christ, and pointing to something deeper than can be found in any text message.
It is interesting to observe the changes we’ve experienced over many years. We love our cell phones, smart phones, and iPads that keep us in touch with others wherever we are. If we are without it for a day we feel lost. It was only a few years ago that we would ride through a town looking for a corner phone booth if we needed to make a call. Show a young person a dial telephone and he’ll wonder what it is. Many years ago people would go on a journey and be out of touch for months at a time. Our world has certainly changed. I’m not convinced it has all of been for good. How do we measure change? Or a deeper question, what is our purpose in life? According to the the Westminster Catechism, our purpose is to love God and enjoy Him forever. If that is true, then change is measured by how it supports this purpose, or perhaps detracts from it. People before mass communication learned to love God deeply and share His love with many others. We won’t give up our cell phones, but we should keep our focus on the true purpose for which God has given us life.