We can all remember a time when a grandparent started a conversation with, ‘I remember the time when . . .” Your eyes probably rolled back in your head as you settled down for a lengthy period of nostalgia. The end of the monologue most likely finished with a comment on how much you’d grown, which was all the more painful because you were in your late teens at the time.
It has to be said that those were ‘the good old days’, just as today will be part of ‘the good old days’ we tell our grandkids about in the future. Every generation recalls better times of the past, primarily because they’ve had time to mull them over, selecting to recall what was good while choosing to ignore those things that caused us pain. Nothing ever stays the same because progress happens whether you want it or not. You can’t stop it. You just have to get used to it.
When we get older it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of constraining growth because we simply feel safe and secure in what we know. Good and useful progress has never been instigated by the complacent or sedentary.
Imagine if the 32-year-old Thomas Edison was only satisfied with his job as a businessman rather than looking for a way to develop a practical long-lasting, electric light globe. Also consider life without the phonograph or the motion picture camera he invented. If Edison hadn’t created new technologies to improve the way we live we’d all be sitting by candlelight entertaining ourselves by reading, playing acoustic instruments, or telling stories. While a simpler life may have its benefits the good use of technology can enrich our lives significantly.
Sometime in the 4th century before Christ, there was a man named Jabez. We don’t know much about this man but that he was from one of the clans of Judah. His name means “Pain” because his mother had a painful childbirth when delivering him. No doubt he carried the significance of that name wherever he went. Jabez is mentioned only once in the Bible, in 1 Chronicles. But his significance is founded on the fact that God singled him out from all of the genealogies recorded in this part of the Bible. Jabez made an impact on God because he pleaded to Him for new opportunities to tell people about God.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NIV)
This non-descript character of the Old Testament wasn’t content with the status quo. He had a vision to communicate his love for God to a much broader audience. He sought the Lord’s blessing and guidance, but also his protection, as he increased his sphere of influence.
In these New Testament days, Jesus calls us to enlarge our territory to share our love for him in an ever-increasing circle. The influence we exert does not have as its objective wealth, power or the manipulation of people but simply to connect our families, friends and workmates with Christ.
The way we do this is to teach the Biblical principles of the first century church by using contemporary methods and technologies. While Jesus’ message stays the same, its delivery mechanism should change so it parallels culture, age, and social demographic.