Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Promise of the Spirit.4

"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot understand them just now. However, when the breath of God has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak of himself; but whatever he hears, that he will speak, showing you those things that are to come." 

The Wizard of Oz
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" 
-The Great and Powerful Oz

There is a narrative running throughout our culture that the only reality that has meaning is the virtual reality. The smart phone we carry in our pockets has less to do with its computing power than in shaping the way we see the world! A recent TV commercial sums up society: a young man tries in vain to get his girlfriend's attention as she focuses on her phone.  He looks around at every other patron in the coffee shop also deeply engrossed in their virtual worlds.  He finally realizes the only way to get her attention is to send her a text asking her to look up so that he can give her a real gift!

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...

How to explain our addiction to all things technological? Surely it has something to do with a great fascination in knowing "the things that are to come".  Throughout history many people have made predictions that, accurate or not, impacted society. Nostradamus. Galileo. Muhammad. Cayce. Remember waiting in breathless anticipation for the carnage predicted for Y2K?  How about the turning of the Mayan calendar marking the end of the world?  Fortunes have been made and reputations built selling a compelling vision of the future.

More chilling, however, are those who attempt to shape the way we will experience the future.  By persuading us that there are forces at work beyond our control and selling an antiseptic vision of an ordered world, they lure us away from foundational truths. Vital truths such as our God-imaged individuality and the need for moral development.  Moral development that can only come by recognizing our need for oneness with our Creator God who can account for our existence, and through faith in His Son, help us overcome the difficulties of life, leading us toward our potential for love, truth and righteousness. 

Ray Kurzweil, an American author, inventor, futurist, and a director of engineering at Google, describes these forces in his book The Singularity Is Near. "The Singularity [a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed] will allow us to transcend [the] limitations of our biological bodies and brains."

His compelling vision of the future includes:
  •  We will gain power over our fates
  • Our mortality will be in our own hands
  • We will be able to live as long as we want (a subtly different statement from saying we will live forever.)
  • We will fully understand human thinking and will vastly extend and expand its reach.
  • By the end of this century, the non biological portion of our intelligence will be trillions of trillions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence.

The lines are being drawn very clearly for followers of Jesus as more media takes up the drumbeat of ordered reality. TV shows like Almost Human, Intelligence, Person of Interest, and movies such as Minority Report and Transcendence craft a virtual reality that makes the merging of human & machine seem possible.  More subtle, however, is the message that we are the Masters of Our Fate and can explain all the mysteries of the Universe through faith in evolutionary science. Not so subtle this message: if you don't comply with the ordered reality of the Power Worshipers you will, at least, be marginalized, and at worst, destroyed. 

For woven into the crafted imagery of the new virtual reality are clear violations of conscience and conviction particularly in regard to concupiscence,  lasciviousness, licentiousness and fornication (words found in the KJV bible translation that served the church well for centuries to shine the spotlight of exposure on the awful, dark side of sin).  

"If the foundations be destroyed, 
what can the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3

Battle weary believers, who ought to shine brighter than ever as the darkness grows darker, are in danger of having lampstands removed.  Who among us does not now have to struggle with being light and salt to an ever growing number of friends, neighbors, relatives who have exchanged the truth of God's natural law (the conscience they're born with) for this worlds' new order?  Sadly, rather than growing more righteous and skilled in our response to the challenges of living in an increasingly pagan world, many rationalize with and seek scriptural justification for sin. 

For example, I recently got involved in an animated discussion on why some Christians pick on certain sins over others.  In the end, the "certain sin" they were most troubled that Christians picked on was homosexuality!  One debater simply dismissed it as even being a sin.  Another believed that the scriptures commonly used to identify it as sin are misinterpreted because of context, he thinks they are God's warning against pagan worship practices not deviant sexual behavior! Certainly others seemed to agree that identifying what is sin has as much to do with our comfort level as our interpretation of scripture!

Follower of Jesus, if you want to avoid error and understand the things Jesus still has to say to us, I have this exhortation: love the Truth, listen to the Spirit, obey what He says - comfortable or not!