What Gets You Out of Bed?
written by Rev Gary Heard
What gets you out of the bed in the morning? What can keep you up all night? My mobile phone has woken me at odd hours, and kept me up for a while awaiting a call. But this was taken to new levels this week with the launch of the iPhone in Australia. Media reports abound of long queues in the early hours of Friday morning as people sought to get their hands on this long-awaited (at least for some) piece of technology. Ironically, the first purchaser unsuccessfully tried to ring his wife. “She must still be asleep,” was his explanation of her failure to answer.
It is an odd world indeed where people are prepared to sacrifice sleep in order to be one of the first to claim ownership of a new electronic gadget, all the while expressing angst over rising petrol prices, increasing interest rates, declining water supplies, and a deteriorating planet. A new gadget seemingly provides temporary inoculation against the harsh realities of life - for a mere $800.
When this is further set against the backdrop of a world where 40% go to sleep each night having insufficient food for the day to come; where threat of disease, famine, drought, or war gives each day a tenuous feel, it raises deeper questions.
There is a curious footnote of irony in the wealthy West, given surveys reveal that we live in one of the loneliest moments in history, even while communication technology continues to multiply. Survey after survey continues to report an increasing sense of isolation and disconnectedness from others even as the ability to stay in touch has never been made easier.
It gives pause to ask what people are ultimately searching for… what it is that will bring people back out in the middle of the night when the next fad appears, as has in the past when we have witnessed release of new Windows platforms, iPods and other such paraphernalia offering something for which many cannot be persuaded to wait, many of which now sit idly on the shelf as their owners have moved on in the next exciting development in this continuing search.
The danger which threatens to envelop the church is the belief that good ministry involves such gadgets: better technology, snazzier presentations of the gospel, more savvy communications skills. Yet it is the deep yearning for community, for connectedness, which undergirds the large part of this passion – the touch of a real person upon our lives which give it meaning, respect, and hope. It is an oft-unremarked aspect of Jesus’ ministry – that he touched those whom society had rejected and isolated: the poor, the lepers, the outcasts. He embraced them. He welcomed them into community. He made them whole again.
Christian communities may not have the tech savvy and cool which modern technology offers, but inasmuch as they offer the kind of community which Jesus empowered, they offer something of greater worth, of more tranformative power and enduring quality than any technology. It’s something worth getting out of bed for.
July 13, 2008