Please take five minutes to view the YouTube video clip, Did You Know? You can access this clip by clicking here. It has been updated every year and the 2018 version is already dated to some extent. Life is happening fast and the statistics change by the nanosecond. Still, it broadly presents the unique challenges of exponential times. (Please excuse the short advertisement tat precedes the clip).
OK, I was wrong. For the last couple of years I've speculated that the most prevalent metaphor of our times is a fast paced super-highway, sleek vehicles jetting along at newly revised, faster speed limits. Mobility is the motion of these times and velocity is the pace. Occasionally the motion and pace is interrupted by congestion, frozen interchanges, confusing entrance and exit ramps, or the gawkers looking for blood at mishaps. In my mind, at the time, it was an overall image of frustration, the world of the clog. But, it was wrong.
Our times are not a mere highway. They are the information super-highway and the speed isn't calibrated at mph but at planck time. In case you are wondering planck time is "the time it would take a photon traveling at the speed of light to across a distance equal to the Planck length. This is the quantum of time, the smallest measurement of time that has any meaning, and is equal to 10-43 seconds" (see Wikipedia, Planck time). It's way above my pay grade. But, it's fast. Faster than any automobile.
And, it's the world in which we live. When i show the Did You Know? video clip in churches most of the pastors and church leaders remind me that their rural congregation isn't actually in that world. Then, it's my turn, time for some truth. The working people and students who are members and participants in their ministry program enter that world every day. If the congregation doesn't function in that world, it will become disconnected from the people they should be preparing to be disciples in that very world. Yea, verily.
Observers identify this new world as exponential in nature. Look it up. Exponential, at the core, means fast. Life moves today at exponential speeds and is managed by exponential systems that are complex as well as fast. Sometimes they crash. Like the day our modem went berserk. Everything shut down---my MAC Air, iPad, iPhone, Nook, FitBit, Xfinity home security system, cable television, email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media apps, the Aria scale that weighs me daily, the contact list, my communication programs at CSU, and how we order groceries at Wally World. Not to mention all of Harriet's devices and apps. We were functionally helpless.
These are the real metaphors of the times, not the interstate highways we travel. Like it or not, they are the stuff of these exponential times. And, as a metaphor, this system crash resembles what can happen in my life when the central elements are shoved to the side by the many functions that make it happen in this world. And, of course, my spiritual bearings are that central element. When my personal spiritual life is crowded out by the many other elements competing for my time and attention a crash is possible, even probable. So, the question of the hour is how the many connections of life can remain consistent in exponential times, with spiritual truth in the lead.
So, the people at Xfinity reminded me that update is a power word in this complex world. Since my knowledge of this new world is limited to the on and off buttons, the update reminders of our many systems have usually been secondary. Somewhere in the process of exponential times these were ignored. Systems overloaded, connections malfunctioned, and the entire process crashed. When the technician tried to explain these dynamics to me, my mind rushed to my personal need for spiritual updates to help me function properly in exponential times. My faith needs constant updating.
Personal renewal is the spiritual discipline of updating. It is a significant theme in Scripture. Several verses in his Epistles the Apostle Paul emphasized the necessity of spiritual renewal, that is, keeping faith fresh and updated.
In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is
being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed
in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God
has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Ephesians 4: 22-24
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man
is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
And, of course, there are many more. My point is simple. Personal spiritual renewal is the discipline of asking God to create the right kind of heart in me so that I can be his disciple in these exponential times. And, personal renewal, that is, updating my personal faith regularly, is element one in keeping my personal systems functional and crash proofing my exponential life. Amen.
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