Categories
Christian living church example influence

NOT WHAT HE MADE IT FOR

Neal Pollard

Karl Friedrich Benz invented the first true gasoline-powered automobile in Germany in 1885, a 3-wheeled, 4-cycle internal combustion engine (via lib.gov). The vehicle has come a long way since then.  To date, the fastest car on record (0-300 km) is the Hennessey Venom GT (13.63 seconds, guinnessworldrecords.com). The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport achieved the fastest recorded speed (267.857 mph) in 2010 (topgear.com).  Benz may not have foreseen how fast or sophisticated the automobile would become.  Given the speeds most cars can achieve, he may not have anticipated that people would get behind the wheel drunk or high, texting, severely sleep-deprived, or with car bombs.  We would not blame Benz, Ford, or the Dodge brothers for the way Timothy McVeigh misused that Ryder truck in 1995.  Who would dispute that the automobile, used properly, has made such a positive impact on the average person’s life for over a century?  But, when abused, it has contributed to profound heartache for millions of people.

Paul reveals the church as part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11).  That means God had the church in mind from the eternity before creation!  He sent His Son to shed His life’s blood in order to purchase the church (Acts 20:28).  Paul affirms that Jesus loves the church and died for it (Eph. 5:25). We read of the beginning of that church in Acts 2. God intended for the church to be the means through which He receives glory and honor (Eph. 3:21). Untold numbers of people over 20 centuries of time have been blessed because they were introduced to and became members of His church.  Through faithful, righteous members of His church, people have come to believe in, follow and fall in love with God.

That there are so many claiming to be members of His church who contradict His teachings, who have subjugated His will to the whims of the culture, or who have lived unwholesome, unholy lives to the detriment of its influence cannot be successfully disputed.  That there are so many who are members of it whose attitude, hypocrisy, selfishness, prejudice, and exclusivity have repelled those who are not members of it can also be easily, if anecdotally, established.  In a larger sense, those who kill and harm others in the name of the God of the Bible no more reflect the nature and character of that God than one who takes anything man made for good and misuse it.

What we can never do is mistake the abuse of the name of God, the Bible, or His church as the fault of God.  He left clear instructions, a pattern for people to follow.  If they do not follow it, they are to blame.  The challenge for you and me, today and every day, is to be the best ambassadors for Christ we can be (2 Cor. 5:20).  Let’s show the world the wisdom of God by helping the church be what He intended it to be!

Categories
considerate courtesy friendliness love

Please Hang Up Your Smartphone

Neal Pollard

Prefatory note: I am writing as a guilty party rather than an innocent bystander.  The following words are directed inwardly at least as much as outwardly.

It is getting hard to remember what we did before we got our smartphones.  How did we keep from answering everyone’s texts immediately or looking up the minutest factoids about athletes, actors, and ancient history before we let another moment pass? What did husbands and wives, other family, and friends do at dinner and other public and private places?  Why did we ever engage in face to face conversations with the person in front of us when we could have been blowing them off to inbox or text a person hundreds or thousands of miles away from us?  Wasn’t good manners and courtesy way overrated?

It seems like an epidemic, whether an etiquette virus or relationship dementia.  Too often, we have become so absorbed with posting, tweeting, Facebooking, and like communicating with our cellular device that we have slowly started disconnecting with the real world and the moment.  Last Sunday, sitting at the airport, I was amazed to see rows and rows of future passengers glued to their seats with eyes glued to their laptops and phones.  The airlines have even modified their policy in recent times to allow one to never have to cut off their “handheld devices” so long as they are in airplane mode.  I’m no expert, but I wonder for how many of us our tools of technology have become avenues of addiction?  I have given a little thought to this, and now offer some totally unsolicited advice:

  • Choose the person in the room who can see whether you are paying attention to them over the one elsewhere who won’t know you didn’t answer their message immediately.
  • If you choose face-to-face interaction, try putting your phone away and even out of convenient reach.
  • Try to be self-aware of how much time you are spending with and how often you gravitate toward your phone.
  • If it is an urgent or emergency situation, consider excusing yourself (if possible without divulging that you are tending to your phone) until after you’ve completed the text, call, or message.
  • As much as possible, stow the phone when it’s family time, date time, double-date time, or social or spiritual fellowship time.
  • Realize that any excuse given for why you are answering that text or message will almost always sound lame.  Don’t excuse rudeness.  Eliminate it.

We can really help each other break this habit, and we need to do so with love and patience while realizing most of us are guilty of these things at least sometimes.  Let us not let the virtual and technological worlds interfere with and even hamper our “realtime relationships.”  May we all practice “hanging up” our smartphones more often!