Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Would you like to update?

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in church, preparing to hear some words of encouragement from the pastor.  As he began his message, he asked us to turn to thge Scripture passage for the day to read along.  Being the 21st century guy that I am, of course I pulled out my BlackBerry.  No, not to check facebook or twitter during the message!  But to look up the passage on my Bible app and follow along.

(Note: Yes, I am sure that somebody in the church was judging me at that point.  They probably thought that I really was checking email or texting or something else.  But I'm not there to please them, am I?  You know what?  This is a good subject for a whole different blog post...so never mind.)

So I selected the appropriate icon from the screen expecting my app to kick in.  but what I got was this message:
An update is available.  Would you to replace version with version 2.6.1?
Ok, does this strike anyone else as funny?  Of all the things to update...the BIBLE??  I mean, this is the word of God. Eternal. And God-breathed, equipping us for every good work. Also living and active, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  How can there be an update?

Of course, it was a software update, not an update to the Scriptures themselves.  I am sure it contains new and improved search features, maybe a faster engine, uses less memory...all the things that are typically included in software updates.  A change in the environment and presentation of God's word, to make it better and more user-friendly.

And it got me thinking.  Isn't this the challenge we face in this ever changing world in which we live in? (Yes, those are lyrics from Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die. If you caught it, gold star for you. :))  We have an unchanging message of Good News that give meaning an purpose to life for everyone.  We need to stand firm proclaiming that it is true and life-changing.  There is a God who created everything and loves us; we have turned away from him; he came into the world in the person of Jesus to show us what he was like and to reconcile us to himself through his death and resurrection; he wants us to accept that and live in a relationship with him; and at the perfect time he will come again to make everything right.

But how we present it...that is our "app".  That is software than can and should be updated to speak to our time.  Just as the gospel needs to be presented in language that can be understood (good luck if you think you'll get it done speaking English in Russia), it also needs to be presented in the context of culture.  Paul did this throughout his ministry (e.g., see Acts 17:16-33).  Most of our hymn tunes were bar tunes of a previous century, used to reach out to the people who knew them from hanging out at pubs.  And today, we need to constantly look for new and fresh ways to get the word out to as many people as possible, in ways they can relate to.  Without changing the message.

So "I stand by the door."  I keep up with movies...current music...TV shows...news events...and use them in conversations, gospel talks, and blog posts.  So the church uses music and media to relay the message, and rightfully uses a multitude of worship styles to reach the maximum number of people.  (Please read this blog post about making worship friendlier from a friend of mine.)

We do all this because the message is too important and life-changing. When it comes to iPhone, Droid, or BlackBerry apps, it's true: if the software get out of date, people will stop using it.  Can we afford to assume our message requires less diligence?

It was surprising to see an update message for Bible software.   But I downloaded it anyway, because I wanted to have best presentation of the eternal word of God.  May we always do the same.

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