An old saying warns us not to be the first to adopt a new technology or style, nor be the last to abandon it. There seems to be wisdom here, and a recent experience confirmed it. I cannot save new posts in WordPress’s new dashboard. I just lost most of an article there, after composing it in that software.
Perhaps my aged operating system and browser are not up to date on the technology behind the new system. Is it my fault or WordPress’s that they’ve adopted requirements that some of the millions who use their service do not possess?
Some people pride themselves on being early adopters (and a few on being resistant to adopting anything new). Even a hashtag for the early birds seems to exist. People who create things like books and articles, however, might not want to entrust their works to unproven technologies.
¶ It’s unlikely I’ll go back and rewrite that article. Consider it lost. As time passes and memory clouds, that short piece of writing will acquire masterpiece status. The best thing I’d ever written.
The original manuscripts of a work considered by many to be one of the great books of the Western World was destroyed by accident, and the author set himself to rewrite it. I confess to lacking such a dedication.
¶ The article that WordPress failed to save described jet lag in some detail (one’s experiences influence one’s prose), observed how this is a modern phenomenon, and then compared it to our spiritual state after conversion.
When we were baptized, the soul was immediately transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, Cl 1.13-14. We are born again, from above, by water and the Spirit in a moment of time, Jn 3.3, 5. Sins are forgiven, Ac 2.38. Our spirits breathe the air of eternal life. These changes occur in an instant.
But our bodies remain in this world. We see corruption and perversion all around us. The sudden transportation of our spirits into the presence of God creates a lag, so to speak, an intense desire and expection to reach the gates of heaven and enjoy the realities of that foursquare city.
So we, says Paul, “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly” for our final redemption, Rm 8.23. We want our bodies to catch up with our spirits, and both be whisked to the Perfect Place where no evil or death or darkness exist.
¶ Back to the don’t-go-first saying. We know well, and may God help us to practice daily, the words of Jesus about being last and servant of all, rather than vying for first place. In this context, being first means getting your way, exercising power and possessing riches. None of that for the follower of the Suffering Servant!
¶ Seems some of the American military branches coined slogans with the go-first idea. The Marines are “first in, last out.” Another phrase, “first in danger,” seemed to ring a bell, but no searches turned anything up. Soldiers who have trained up are raring to go.
Aren’t Christians, too? God equips us with all we need for his service, which consists of proclaiming the Good News. Peter says “his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence” 2Pt 1.3. With the Bible in hand, “the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work” 2Tm 3.16-17.
In the divine army his soldiers never lack for proper equipment and fighting gear.
So shouldn’t we be first in the field? Won’t those who profess to be New Testament Christians jump at the chance to get into action and save the lost across the globe?
Is anything of Paul’s sentiment still present in God’s messengers today?
And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, but as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand” Rm 15.20-21.
There is always somewhere new to go, always a new generation to evangelize, always a pocket of people who have heard nothing of the truth of the Good News.
¶ I heard it first from the mouth of a brother in Christ, then saw it in writing from a denominational source, but regardless of its origin, the phrase has merit. My paraphrase: Everyone deserves to hear the gospel once, before anyone hears it twice.
The point is not math, but motivation. God has flung his people out into the world and wants every single person to hear about, and have opportunity to respond to, what Christ accomplished on the Cross.
God wants all to be saved. Who am I to want less than that?