Staff Corner – Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
Ray Tomlinson sat down at his computer workstation and did something that most people take for granted: he sent an email. The year was 1971, and Tomlinson was working on a very early version of the internet. He wanted a way for people to send messages to one another even if they used different types of computers. The email Tomlinson sent went through to another computer in the same room. He doesn’t remember what was in that email. What matters is that the email he sent was the very first email ever sent.
To say that the invention of email impacted how people communicate would be a significant understatement. It is estimated that over 300 billion emails are sent every day. Since the 1970’s The United States Postal Service has seen a dramatic decline in the demand for sending letters, people find it easier, faster, and simpler to shoot off a quick email. The invention of email has forever changed how people interact in business, at work, and at home.
The USPS might have thought people would always send each other letters through the mail. Email changed that forever. But the dominance of email lasted for a much shorter time than the USPS! Text messaging surpassed email use way back in 2012! Three hundred billion emails per day might seem like a lot. But that is a drop in the bucket compared with the 8 trillion text messages sent each day!
Email users scoff at those who use “snail mail.” In the same way, those who primarily use text to communicate mock the clunky feel of using email. A bit of superiority is felt when being on the cutting edge while looking down at that which came before.
C.S. Lewis referred to this as “chronological snobbery.” This kind of snobbery is encountered in each successive generation. It assumes that the most current generation is the smartest, most insightful, and enlightened age.
The book of Romans argues against this kind of arrogance in the life of followers of Jesus. There may be a temptation for those who trust Jesus to assume they have a relationship with God because of their keen insight. Christians may be tempted to compare themselves with the people who followed God in the Old Testament. Romans warns against a sense of superiority by those who follow Jesus. Referring to Israel as branches, Romans 11:18 says to Christians, “…do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”
How do we have a relationship with God? By being connected to God by faith. It is not because of keen insight, spiritual sensitivity, or intellectual superiority. It is simply the grace of God that calls us to trust Jesus that we have the support we need in “the root.”
Since the life we have in God through Jesus Christ is entirely dependent on God’s kindness and grace, we must have an attitude of humility. It is phrased in the form of a command in Romans 11:20, “…but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.”
Why would we need to fear? One way to understand it is to think of a time where you had a “close call.” Has there been a time in your life where things were just seconds from going really bad? Maybe out on a hike, you stumbled but caught yourself. You realize how close you came to take a nasty fall down a steep slope.
Or maybe while driving at the last moment, you made a decision that resulted in avoiding a bad car accident. Looking back, you take a deep breath as you perceive how close it was to being a terrible wreck.
When we look back at God finding us by His grace, we should be filled with joy and peace. But there is also a place for us to be humbled. What if He hadn’t extended His grace? What if His Spirit hadn’t stirred in our soul? We quickly realize there is no place for pride in our life in Christ. Each day in Jesus is a day of God’s grace. And we, like all those who came before us, can look back with both joy and fear, “Whew, that was close!”
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 11:11-24.
Praying with you,