Friday, 30 March 2012
By Andy at Faith and Geekery
Every year when Lent comes around, I think a lot about connectivity – especially my connection to God. Well, to be honest, I mostly think about how poorly I’m connected to God and how I wish I were better connected. Oftentimes when this happens, I begin to wrongfully accuse God of being at fault, of not doing His part to connect to me.
But God’s signal never stops.
It’s like I’m viewing God as the wireless router that won’t work properly, and I’m the perfect computer that can always connect, whenever I want to.
Whenever I want to.
When I woke up this morning, it was to my iPod touch’s alarm. What’s the absolute first thing I did (with my eyes still half-closed)? I checked my email. Second? I checked Facebook. Third? ESPN. Fourth? The weather.
In the first two minutes of being awake, before I even got out of bed, I was connected to a piece of technology, work, sports, weather, and a plethora of people via social networking. I do this every morning. Perhaps you have a similar routine.
All of those connections are at the palm of my hand. And yet, how long did it take me to connect to God? It’s not like I don’t have an app for that; my Bible app is right next to my ESPN app. The reality is that most mornings I have two cups of coffee, get ready for the day, play on the Internet some more, ride the train to work and sit at my desk all before I think about connecting to God.
I figure it is time for some troubleshooting. So what’s the problem? Is God hiding? Am I not trying hard enough? Is there some sort of interference? Am I broken?
Well, the answer to the last question is obvious: yes, I am broken. The sin in my life is an all too constant reminder of my brokenness, of my inability to do what is right, of my habit of falling short of God’s glory.
Sin always makes me think about Adam and Eve. Here they are, the crown of God’s creation, intimately connected to God, without sin, living in the perfection God intended on earth…and they both fail. They get disconnected from God’s glory and cause disconnection for every human to follow. Sometimes, I can’t help but express major disappointment in Adam and Eve…like I could have done any better.
It’s like they had an infinitely long Ethernet cable and in sinning, willfully unplugged themselves. The result was that God severed their perfect, superfast connection. But God didn’t stop the signal.
All too often we treat God like an Ethernet cord that we can plug in and unplug whenever we want without consequence. We can ignore God when we want and pay attention to God when we want and that better be okay with God. Well, God might have something to say about that.
In the Old Testament there are people who God chose to connect to in an intimate way, but it was nowhere near as solid of a connection as Adam and Eve had. The source didn’t change; the signal didn’t stop. God was still God, but connecting was not as easy. It’s like the connection was password protected, but because of sin nobody could properly remember the password. Sometimes God shouted in people’s ears, choosing to connect to them, but not because of their holiness, rather because of God’s grace.
Finally, after centuries of mankind struggling in sin, at just the right time God sent His own Son Jesus into the world. Jesus preached and taught about the Kingdom of Heaven and showcased His own unique connection to the Kingdom of Heaven: He is its King.
Jesus brought a renewed connection to humanity simply by coming to earth. While humanity hadn’t had a pure connection to God since Adam and Eve, Jesus brought that connection to earth in and of himself. By seeing Jesus or hearing Him speak, people found themselves connected to God. Moreover, Jesus was perfectly connected to God because He was without sin. He had the perfect connection no other human could attain.
In Jesus’ death and resurrection, He gives us the promise of unlimited, unrestricted, perfect connection to God. He grants us access to God. Paul speaks about this access in Romans 5 and in Ephesians 2, saying, “[Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
We were far away, disconnected, but God brought us back and reconnected us. It’s like Jesus is this all encompassing wireless router that is totally free, totally unrestricted, and available any time at all for connectivity to God.
But Jesus’ death and resurrection hasn’t automatically made every human since then feel connected to God. There are many people who still go through this life and die never understanding what they are missing when it comes to connecting to God.
But Jesus didn’t ascend into heaven without opening God’s Word to us. In John’s Gospel account, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Disconnected from Jesus we can do nothing. Staying connected to Jesus, abiding in Jesus, we bear fruit.
The book of 1 John also provides some insight. This letter offers several pieces of advice for holy living and abiding in God. It mentions walking as Jesus, loving one’s brother, doing the will of God, keeping God’s commandments, confessing that Jesus is the Son of God, abiding in love, and believing the teachings of Christ. Like I said, Jesus didn’t leave us empty handed. By doing all those things John mentions, along with studying the Bible, we can build up the habit of connecting to God. God hasn’t changed. God is still there, the source that keeps pumping out the signal seeking us and helping us to connect. This habit of connecting to God helps build up metaphorical bandwidth, it makes our receiving antennae stronger.
We’re still not perfect on this side of heaven. We shut off our receivers often. We ignore the signal the God sends, inviting us to connect. But no matter what you and I have done, our actions cannot stop the signal.
It reminds me of a quote from Joss Whedon’s movie Serenity. Mr. Universe – a giant geek with major technology knowledge – says, “You can’t stop the signal, Mal. Everything goes somewhere, and I go everywhere.”
Jesus is a better version of Mr. Universe. Nobody can stop God’s signal. It’s always out there. Jesus comes to earth revealing the signal more clearly, helping God’s creation to see it and understand it more clearly by teaching, preaching, and removing humanity’s sin. Jesus then sends out His followers to continue spreading the signal, hoping to connect all people to God.
God’s signal of love and grace is unstoppable. Jesus connects us to that signal through His life, death, and resurrection. And we await the day when we can be fully connected to God in heaven, without the infection of sin.