If I didn’t know better, I’d think my computer has been listening in on private exchanges with my wonderful, incredibly patient and helpful wife. I can’t confirm that active collaboration is going on between the two of them, but the device has clearly adopted the opinion that simply telling me stuff one time isn’t nearly enough. In any case, it apparently felt the need to interrupt me lately with endless reminders that its operating system is in need of attention, and for some reason, this insistent little reminder kicked in my rebellious instincts.
Perhaps I’ve been subjected to too many government mandates for the past couple of years. Regardless, my initial response was not positive. I determined that no little authoritarian cabal of microscopic electronic gadgetry and manipulative digital doodads was going to tell me what to do. But then I sensed the Holy Spirit interrupting me about the time I was ready to launch into a full-blown patriotic, soul-stirring, inspirational diatribe about my God-given rights and the erosion of personal freedoms.
An Eye-Opening Exchange ~
Apparently, God was not all that excited about hearing another one of my impromptu sermons, and decided to adjust my perspective. It’s remarkable how He can interfere with our natural reactions just by asking a simple question or two. In this case, an exchange played out in my head between God and me that went something like this:
God: “So let me get this straight. You’re being offered an update for your computer that will…
a) … offer greater protection from the latest cyber attacks,
b) … enable you to handle information faster and more efficiently,
c) … include some options and innovations that will make your work easier and more enjoyable, and
d) … require nothing from you except clicking a button to express your approval and sacrificing a few minutes to install it.
And you see all that as an unnecessary and bothersome intrusion because you’re okay with the status quo. Is that about right?”
Me: “Well… Uhh, yeah, I guess so….”
God is always intent on revealing things about Himself and about us that contribute to His goal of making us more like Him. In this case, He made it clear that the process of providing updates to operating systems didn’t originate with the computer age. God has apparently been doing that for thousands of years.
Divine Updates Were Offered ~
For instance, if we put it in modern-day terms, when Jesus came, the operating system that governed what God’s people could and could not do was basically defined by the Torah. Those commands and directives God delivered to Moses were interpreted by the Priests, and their practical application was enforced by various religious authorities. Jesus brought with Him the offer of a major update to that system that included incredible benefits and unprecedented options.
Their operating system was demanding, burdensome, anxiety producing, and painfully restrictive in many ways. Instead of promoting gratitude and love for God, it tended to generate more dread of Him. The radical system update that Jesus offered addressed all those distressful issues they were struggling with under the Mosaic Covenant. In spite of that, many were satisfied with the status quo and saw Jesus and His message as an unwanted intrusion. To them, it was threatening because they were comfortable with their old way of thinking and the Old Covenant’s traditional mandates. Jesus offered an update that included a new picture of God’s character and a concept of redemption that freed them from the Law’s demands that were impossible to attain on their own. But that was just the beginning, because the need for installing updates with new capabilities didn’t end there.
More to Come ~
Before leaving them, Jesus informed His followers that He would be adding another update to the system, one that would be the major vehicle for carrying out His plan to offer salvation to everyone and a source of unity for all the disparate tribes, tongues, and races throughout the world. He announced it to Peter with these simple words:
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 NKJV)
In order to achieve that objective and to enable His followers to carry out the mission He had entrusted them to fulfill, additional updates would be needed. His departure would mean that the operating system they were accustomed to would be changing dramatically. What they had been given prior to His departure would not be sufficient for facing the challenges that would confront them later. So, Jesus announced that He would be sending One in His place to provide updates as needed. He said:
These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:25–26 NKJV)
Another Expansion ~
The birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost launched the need for a whole series of updates. For example, in the beginning, only Jews or Jewish proselytes were allowed to be a part of the Church, but God interrupted Peter’s ministry during a visit to Joppa to announce another update. The Gentiles, which included everybody who wasn’t a Jew, would be welcomed and included in everything Jesus offered. But those monumental improvements weren’t the only ones God offered. Updates were needed on an individual basis as well because things change, new challenges arise, resources get depleted, and the enemy’s tactics are constantly being revised and refined. Paul recognized that when he wrote this admonition to the Romans:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1–2 NKJV)
Sadly, many times, the updates God offers us are not welcomed. Our human tendency regarding spiritual things is to be satisfied with the status quo, especially if we aren’t seeing any overt problems in that area. In that case, it’s easy to adopt the attitude that making changes just isn’t worth the effort. Returning to my computer example for a minute, the electronic world has changed in the years since I bought it – and the device had no innate ability to keep up without outside help. The same thing is true of you and me.
Deficiencies Have Been Exposed ~
The status quo of our Western Christianity has allowed the killing of innocent babies to be declared “health care” and a basic “human right”. The simple matter of determining what gender someone is has become an insoluble mystery. Openly expressing our beliefs and/or practicing the dictates of our faith has become a criminal act in some places. The most toxic, divisive, perverse, and destructive ideas imaginable are not only defended, they are taught at every level in our schools. Apparently, nothing can be condemned anymore, except, of course, Biblical values and conservative ideas. Does it look like we may have missed an update or two?
The world has changed around us and the Church of Jesus Christ in our nation has not kept pace with the challenges those changes represent. Our individual Christian operating systems are in desperate need of a fresh infusion of the Holy Spirit’s power and authority. We need a revival of the power and willingness to stand up for righteous principles, to speak out against lawlessness and corruption, and to be living examples of the things we claim to believe.
Our spiritual, moral, and ethical deficiencies are glaring – and they’ll never be addressed by status quo Christianity. The personal update God offers each of us is desperately needed and instantly available. The question is simple . . . Are we willing to receive and apply all that Jesus died to offer us and stands ready to activate in us – or not?
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- “Our human tendency regarding spiritual things is to be satisfied with the status quo, especially if we aren’t seeing any overt problems in that area personally. It’s easy to adopt the attitude that making changes just isn’t worth the effort.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The status quo of our Western Christianity has allowed killing innocent babies to be declared “health care” and a basic “human right”. Beyond that, the simple matter of determining what gender someone is has become an insoluble mystery.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Openly expressing our beliefs & practicing the dictates of our faith is a criminal act in some places. The most toxic, divisive, perverse & destructive ideas imaginable are not only defended, they’re taught at every level in our schools.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Our individual Christian operating systems are in desperate need of a fresh infusion of the Spirit’s authority & power to stand for righteous principles, speak against lawlessness & corruption, & be examples of what we claim to believe.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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