Americans used to be able to do some things. Some pretty amazing things quite frankly. In terms of world history, it wasn’t that long ago that determined men and women set out across this country on horseback and in wagons and blazed a trail west. With little more than a trail to follow in some places, they forged rivers and crossed mountains to find a stake in the future of a young country.
Today, well, we are looking for the easy way out of everything. If we don’t have to do it, we won’t, no matter how insignificant the task may be.
Automobiles have had an incredible impact on us and this nation. Not too long ago an automobile was considered some kind of crazy idea. After all, we had horses. Nothing would replace the horse. When was the last time you rode a horse to work? Automobiles were pretty basic at first, just the essentials, a motor, a seat, a windshield and you were off.
I’m old enough to remember not having air conditioning or FM radio in the car. The seat belts were just something they put in the car to make somebody happy. We would stand on the seats and sleep in the area behind the back seat in the rear window. Yes, we were daredevils and we even let our parents and grandparents chain smoke while we rocked on down the road.
Now we have cars that brake for us and warn us when we are drifting out of our lane because we are too busy doing other things when we are behind the steering wheel. Who has time to pay attention to the road when so much is happening on social media? God forbid we miss a tweet or a post. We might miss Aunt Bertha buying a dozen doilies from the swap shop. We would never forgive ourselves.
We have lost so much self-awareness that alarms are being made to warn us when we exit the vehicle and a child is in the back seat. We can’t even remember that we have our children with us. This isn’t a rare occurrence either, it is happening at epidemic proportions. This is so hard to understand and imagine. We are so wrapped up in ourselves and our technology that we can leave our kids in the car while we go work, eat or whatever.
Sure in my younger days we were left in the car by our folks. Happened all the time. Except we could roll down the window and get out if needed. We weren’t infants strapped into car seats. Truth be told, our parents let us stay in the car because they needed the break and I didn’t care to be forced to stand in the lingerie department at Sears.
You can get a refrigerator that can tell you what you have in it. Because opening the door and looking inside is a major hassle. You can even check the frig from your phone. You can probably tweet from your frig, who knows?
You can get a self-flushing toilet for your home, because reaching for that little handle could separate your shoulder or more importantly separate you from Facebook.
Cell phones are not just for talking anymore. You can start your car, turn on the lights at home, make sure the house is warm or cool enough and even watch the cameras you may have set up to make sure Fluffy is ok. We don’t even use phones to talk with anymore, not when you can email and text. Does anyone remember the party line phone?
Computers were supposed to make our lives easier and make the world paperless. How has that worked out? We have more computers in our houses than NASA had to put the first men on the moon. And yet we are busier than we have ever been. We are so busy some can’t even spell out the word “you” in a text, choosing the more efficient “u” because two more letters is just torture. Then there is the emoji nightmare. For the love of all that is good and kind, can we just stop with the emoji nonsense? I can’t figure out what half of them mean anyway.
The “paperless” reason was just a flat out lie. We were told that going to computers would save the environment. Bull manure. Global production in pulp, paper and publishing is expected to increase 77% from 1995 to 2020 (OECD Environmental Outlook 2001). Of that production, 28% is for writing and printing. Only 7% is for tissue. Only 7% for tissue? Our priorities are so messed up.
We want to be entertained, comfortable and have to use as little effort as possible.
Has that same worldly attitude become part of the church? Has it become a part of your relationship with Christ? How can it not?
We are called to be in the world but not of the world. But do we and the church reflect more of the world or more of Christ?
The term “Christian” only appears a few times in the Bible. It is not used by a believer or follower of Christ in describing themselves. Instead, it is a description that the pagans used to describe those who followed Christ.
“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26B (NIV).
It was meant as a derogatory term by the pagans. The pagans saw something in them and in their contempt gave them a name. In only a way that God can control, it would end up being a name that would eventually be embraced by those who followed Christ. We casually and without much thought refer to ourselves and others as Christian all of the time. But what do the pagans, or the world, call us? Isn’t that the more important question?
Peter even recognized that it was initially a derogatory term:
“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
1 Peter 4: 16 & 17 (NIV).
Peter said suffer “as a” Christian, not that they were Christian. Do you think those that were first called Christian could be described as comfortable, entertained and of little effort? It would be hard to fit the word “suffer” in that description.
Not all of us will be called upon to suffer for the gospel. But, as Peter wrote, if we are called to suffer, we should praise God. That sure goes against our selfish nature and worldly logic. How much more should we praise God if, as followers of Christ, we are not suffering? There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of new technologies, in being comfortable or entertained unless we give them the wrong priority. Our priority as Christians, or followers of Christ, should always be His will and not our own.
So would the pagans of this world call us “Christians” or one of them?
Run to the cross!