Factory Reset or Reboot?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, NIV).
Early in my ministry here, I used a small Asus Netbook for my travels. The size of it was quite handy, but its memory was relatively small by today’s standards, yet it served me well for several years. As I traveled, I was able to stay connected via hotel Wi-Fi, public hotspots and the occasional visits to McDonalds, Starbucks and Village Inns. The more that I traveled, however, the Netbook seemed to get slower.
Eventually, the computer got so slow from malware and other stuff (despite having anti-virus installed), that it was almost unusable. So, I decided to start over; I did a factory reset and reinstalled all the updates on my operating system as well as reinstalled all of my programs. It worked like new.
My smartphone on the other hand prompts me regularly not to do a factory reset, but instead, to do a simple “restart” on a regular basis. Occasionally, there will be a small glitch. Like the old, handy, first trouble-shooting question, “Is it plugged in?”, I have learned to do a “restart” (aka, “reboot”) to correct the problem. Regular restarts then allow the system to do the updates that keep major problems from occurring.
Jesus’s sacrificial atonement for our sins was God’s “factory reset” in our (humankind’s) relationship with God. Humanity’s religious ideas and concepts had become so messed up that God decided that no more reboots or restarts would work, it was time to start “anew;” to offer a “rebirth” (as it were) to fix the OS problems once and for all!
While available to all, the “reset” has to be chosen.
Jesus cautioned his followers and those who sought his instruction that similar to the warning of a computer reset: “this action cannot be undone.” Once you truly commit to following Jesus, the “Hound of Heaven” will continue to prompt and to pursue you towards a life lived in sacrifice for others as did Jesus.
But even though someone might choose this new life, there will still be those ongoing glitches in life, those times when we are tempted to revert to the old ways of thinking, those times when our innate desires to “use others” to serve ourself instead of loving them as we love ourself, kicks in. Those times when we need to do a restart like Peter when he tempted Jesus not to walk the way of the Cross, or when Jesus rebooted Peter on the shore after Peter’s denial of Jesus, or when Paul confronted Peter about hypocritical fellowship with Jews in the sight of Gentile believers.
Or like you and me — as we try to follow Jesus in this fast-paced, dog-eat-dog, topsy-turvy world in which we live today. We justify using others in the name of the greater good, not caring about how the toxic process of making chemicals in another nation affects its people while we benefit from its refined qualities, or of oppressing others based on class, race or education, saying that our contributions are more important to the world (but really it only serves to further our own comfort). Or simply allowing ourselves to become so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t see the plight of others.
Sometimes when we look at the world, we have to ask ourselves: Is it time for a simple restart or do we need to reboot?
Peace Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains