Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Staying Connected

Have you noticed how quickly our culture has become obsessed with staying connected? How often do you check your phone? How long can we survive without Wifi? Rebecca and I went to a movie last week and sat through the repeated reminders to silence or turn off all phones and tablets, but many people just couldn't shut them down. I guess two hours is just too long to be unavailable, out of touch. Must we be continually sending and receiving, communicating and connecting? For many of us, being disconnected or shut down is more than uncomfortable, it's almost unthinkable.

Do you suppose we could focus just a little of that desire to be connected with our phones and the internet toward being connected and staying connected with God? How strong is your connection to Christ? How many bars are you getting?

The divine service provider is the Holy Spirit, constantly available, and always providing a strong signal. The Spirit's service never goes down, it's never off, never faulty or unreliable. So, it's up to us to keep the connection open. Don't close it out. Don't shut it down or turn it off. Some of us are connected on Sunday and then spend the rest of the week in airplane or game mode. But the Spirit is always present and available unless we, for whatever reason, shut down the signal.

Something else to think about. In this world we must filter, block, and delete as necessary. How much junk (a kind word for it) comes our way each day through all forms of media, advertisements, and entertainment? Some of it we may choose, and the rest comes whether we want it or not. Studies indicate that more than half of young males, both church-going and otherwise, use pornography regularly. We must find the fortitude to filter what goes into our minds. No one is going to do it for us. We may need to build some accountability into our lives to help us stay on track. Filter, block, delete.

To stay connected with Christ, don't forget to update your status throughout the day. Stay in touch with the Spirit all day long. The old saints used to call this "practicing the presence of God," and we can do it, too. We can take opportunities throughout the day to connect and communicate with God. Our waking moments and our fading moments, when we are getting ready for work and when the day is coming to an end. Commuting, waiting for a train, stuck in traffic, any time our lives are put on hold for a minute or two. We can pause and connect. Recognize the Spirit's presence with you.

And as we go, we can have a running conversation with God, much like texting, all through the day. We stay in touch and we talk: What are you saying to me today, Lord? What are you trying to show me? How can I face my day and handle my responsibilities in a way that please and honors You? How can I bring the presence of Christ into this situation?

And whatever you do, stay in the network. Don't go it alone. We really do need the fellowship, the community, the relationships, the network of believers that we call church. Nothing encourages us like having those alongside who are on the same journey, facing the same sorts or problems and challenges. And this network is always open and available. It's never locked or restricted. No security code or password required, and no secret handshake. Just come on in.

Last of all, let's admit it - sometimes we need to refresh and reboot. That's my one bit of IT expertise - turn it off! Restart. Let it reset. That's not a bad picture of repentance and renewal in your heart. We may need to have our lives reset, refreshed, rebooted by the Spirit of God. Sometimes that's the only fix for our disconnected, convoluted, corrupted lives. The drive may need to be dumped, files will be lost, but what's most precious will be saved, and the life-giving connection with Christ will be restored.

Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5 NIV

So, take an honest look. How many bars are you getting?