The Power of the Internet
I’ve been working from home today. Not taking the day off, mind you – just working from home. And for nearly everything I have accomplished, I have used my computer. We have a pretty fast internet connection here at the house, so I don’t have to wait very long for pages to load or to get information at my fingertips.
So far, I have checked email numerous times, surfed the net for information, used video conferencing, checked electronic calendars, made reservations, conducted analysis on financial statements and vendor invoices received electronically, and been advised that an invoice that I submitted electronically is being paid today. That’s just the stuff that I can think of off the top of my head, not including the writing of this post, the research I have conducted for my Bible study tonight and the sermon I am in the process of writing for next week.
And the work day isn’t over yet. Once in a while, there are glitches – in fact, something had to be sent me me three times this afternoon before I finally received it. But it is still a marvel to realize that stuff is received in one location seconds after it is sent from halfway around the world. And when I do teleconferencing, especially video meetings, the images are clear and voice and data transmissions are, for the most part, very acceptable. It still blows my mind to think that I can be on a call with people from Dallas, New Orleans, and even China, with instant results, rather than wait days or weeks for snail mail or other means of communication.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that we didn’t use computers, and now we find it difficult to get along without them. The simplest of tasks requires some minimal level of competency to even navigate life. Even our prescriptions are sent electronically from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy; and our own children rebel at making check or debit card entries into their written registers. I just don’t know how today’s younger folks keep track, accurately, of their current financial situation. To say nothing of electronic deposits and the fact that when I go to Starbuck’s, they swipe the remote pay application on my iPhone to cover the charge for my drink.
Still, Janet and I still like writing checks as opposed to electronic banking, but I do admit that we have broken down and now transfer funds between our accounts online. And Janet likes to get on her computer and check the value of our retirement fund. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference – there isn’t a whole lot there – but it is kind of fun to see how the market is moving and how it impacts our account.
I also make my travel reservations online and admit that I miss the personal interactions with reservation clerks and hotel staff. With as much as I dislike all this movement to a fully integrated computer age, made even more rapid by the introduction of the Apple iPad, I downloaded the PNC Bank mobile app on my phone this morning. And when I was at a conference in San Diego last fall, dealing with electronics and the licensing of intellectual property, I was intrigued with the idea that within several years, we won’t even be referring to our phones as “phones” – they’ll be some sort of “personal communication device”, as the phone component of our lives is being reduced each year. That time is being replaced by texting, email, instant messaging and web surfing. We are truly becoming a connected society; with the ability to instantly decide whether we want to be connected to somebody else, and if so, for how long and under what conditions.
All this is so different from the way things were in biblical times. Not only didn’t they have computers and the internet, there weren’t any phones, consistent mail delivery, automobiles or any other form of motorized transportation. I think, in part, this is why there were so many different political systems as well as tribal influences across every known area of the world.
Jesus was the first one to change all that. Because the message He wanted to send was one of the universal love of God; and he commanded the disciples to carry this message to every village throughout the globe. Most of the time, the disciples travelled on foot, and I am sure that even if the internet had been one of the tools at their disposal, Jesus would have insisted on a face to face encounter when telling people of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The verse tonight is from the book of Acts, before the coming of the Holy Spirit commanded by Christ after His ascension. Luke tells us in Acts 1:6, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” There you have it.
For each of us who has the power of the Holy Spirit, we still have the command to spread the Good News of the Gospel message, to the ends of the earth. My encouragement this evening is to make sure that you know the job isn’t complete yet – we still have miles to go and unreached people to impact. My prayer is that you will remember the strength of the Holy Spirit in assisting each of us to fulfill our mission. Because even as powerful as the internet is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the power of God. Grace and peace,