Friday, August 29, 2014

Scientific or Spiritual Power?

image used under Public Domain license, photo obtained from commons.wikimedia.org

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

That hasn't changed much. Except things may be getting worse.  The image to the right pretty well illustrates our quote. Except we can't always guide our missiles that well, either.


In modern warfare, when mortars or rockets were launched against troops, someone being attacked by them would shout "Incoming!", as loud as possible, to warn the other troops.  In some locations the warning might be a siren.  Especially with the newest missiles, that warning might only gain seconds to duck for cover.  As we can see from our illustration, that doesn't always help.

Acts 1:8 (KJV)  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

That verse makes us the siren or the guy shouting "Incoming!".  Not out of legalistic requirement, but rather out of love for our fellow man.  We don't have to shout or argue.  Indeed, the more pleasantly we communicate, the more likely it is that someone will listen.  But we're the early warning system in God's kingdom.  The entire human race is in a spiritual battle with Satan and his army of fallen angels and humans who've succumbed to his deceit.  And even some of those humans may not be lost forever.  There are three things we need to remember about this.

As we communicate or, perhaps, consider going out to communicate, there will be those who suggest that we're invading people's privacy.  That's bull.  They wouldn't suggest it's invading someone's privacy to tell people the guard rail is out and the ground is loose, at the edge of a cliff, and there's a good possibility that getting too close to the edge could prove fatal.  They'd complain if we didn't warn people.  These are the same folks who want warning labels on everything, if there's even a one in a trillion chance something negative might happen.  Yet, these are the same people who think giving a warning about possibilities in the spiritual realm is invasion of privacy.  The invisibility of the spirit world lulls them into an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality.  They think it's not real.  And that's all the more reason for us to communicate how real it is.

Second, Acts 1:8 highlights a great spiritual reality.  It's kind of glamorous to go church planting (Samaria) or out on the foreign mission field (the uttermost part of the earth).  Going to places that are at least new to us, if not downright exotic.  But we can't forget that Jesus also mentioned local (Judaea).  The next door neighbor is just as important to God as someone half way around the world. It's the state of their soul, not their location, that gets God's attention.  That needs to be our priority, too.  Interestingly, it's been proven that if someone doesn't evangelize at home, it's almost 100% certainty that going on the mission field won't change that behavior.  The habits we develop at home are the habits we take with us, no matter where we are.

Third, we need to recall that the verse says "ye shall be witnesses unto me", not "ye shall be saviors unto the world".  We're just the messenger or the warning siren.  We don't save anyone; that's God's job.  With our fallen nature, it's easy to lose sight of that.  Remember Balaam's ass?  When Balaam wouldn't share what God wanted him to, God gave his donkey the ability to speak and the ass communicated what God needed spoken.  God can use anyone, but he chooses to give us the privilege of being on the starting lineup of Team God.  We can skip the swelled ego.  We don't want to think too lowly of ourselves, but we don't want to think too highly of ourselves, either.

When we think of our beginning quote, we can see how real it is.  Technology has advanced much more and more rapidly than when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made that statement.  Both privacy and digital property rights are much harder to protect.  And, yet, our spiritual intellect hasn't kept up. God's people are in a technical quandary.

A couple of years ago, I visited a church that was anti-Facebook.  I was there for a conference, the fellowship was fabulous, the doctrinal understanding was very close to that of my own church.  As best as I could understand it, there was concern about temptation.  There didn't seem to be the same concern about the rest of the web.  It made me think that, perhaps, some of the local flock had strayed via Facebook.  But there are some realities that come to light from this.

  1. Is Facebook (or some other social media) that is the problem or do we not trust the flock?
  2. Why just one site or just social media?  In general, each of the social media site has more safeguards in place to protect our wanderings than the general web does.
  3. If someone is going to have problems online, maybe because of a lesser possibility of local consequences, the problem will be the person's minsdset.  But do we have a right to restrict their free will?  Are we afraid that we, as leaders, didn't properly prepare them to make the right choices?  If so, whose fault is that?  And, if leadership did properly train someone to think with God, is leadership to blame for their bad choices?
1 Corinthians 14:8 (KJV)  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 

Whether it's about spiritual thinking or about technology, we're the warning siren and we want our sound to be certain.  After that, we have to trust God and trust the individual.  It's now between them. We've done our job.  And, if we haven't, when they're already headed in the wrong direction is too late, anyway.

Have you practiced your spiritual early warnings, today?

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