FaceTime: An Application

I used to bash technology, but now I have to say it’s a beautiful thing.

With my family is scattered across North America, I’m just glad we can chat with each other and look at each other at the same time. Last Thanksgiving we did a Skype conference call. My mom and sister logged in from Memphis, our children and grandchildren had assembled in Virgina, and my brother and his wife had joined us here in San Diego. Once we got everyone on at the same time, we just sat there and grinned at each other. Then everyone tried to talk at once. Finally it settled into the normal friendly banter, the kids teasing their elders.

It was just like being there. Almost.

Virtual Savior. There are limits to our virtual life. Technology certainly shrinks our world so that we hardly feel the distance. But when a serious problem occurs, cancer or a parent’s failing health, we drop everything and fly across the country. The same is true for a serious joy. A wedding, a birth, a 50th wedding celebration demand our presence, physical and tangible. How else will hugs be felt? Tears be wiped? Babies rocked?

We’ve looked at Romans 8 this week as if it were a big jigsaw puzzle. The big picture, the one printed on the box top is a panoramic view of our life in Christ. It is a life of triumph and assurance, highlighted by freedom, life, adoption, and future glory. Despite sin and suffering, we will make it to the end. Nothing will condemn us. Nothing will separate us from God’s love in Christ.

There’s only one problem. Our Savior is so far away. When our flesh tempts us what are we to do? When suffering makes us weary, how are we to carry on?  When our prayers feel like they’re bouncing off the ceiling, how do we reassure ourselves that we have more than a virtual Savior?

His ministry of Presence. The Holy Spirit is the missing piece to our puzzle. Leave him out and we have trouble connecting our lives to the benefits Christ has given us. But put him in place and we find that each privilege–freedom, life, adoption, prayer, glory–is mediated to us by his Presence. He is our help in fighting sin, our intercessor when enduring suffering.

His ministry is a ministry of Presence. When Jesus left, he came. He’s not just with us, he’s in us. God has come so near, he’s actually inside. Every blessing of Christ is ours through the ministry of his presence in our lives.

Our ministry of presence. One application of this great truth is to realize that he’s called us to a ministry of presence with each other. It’s a reflection of his ministry.  Sometimes answering an email won’t cut it, we need to pick up the phone and call. Sometimes texting doesn’t help, we need to drop by and lend a hand. Sometimes Facebook isn’t enough, we need to fly across the country.

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…

That’s how God comforts us by His Spirit. And that’s how we can comfort each other.

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