Glimpsing the Future by: Rev. Matt Ybañez

I love technology. I love reading about how Google and the State of California are working out a deal that would open up 150 miles of highway to automated, driverless cars in the next few years. I love reading about how the field of artificial intelligence is growing by leaps and bounds and because of it, computers are learning how to talk by listening to us talk—even picking up on unintentional cues like when to stop and take a breath. I love reading about how facial recognition software is now able to identify a person even when their image has been intentionally blurred or altered. So, you can imagine my excitement pending the announcement of Apple’s newest iPhone, which was followed by utter disappointment at the seemingly lackluster announcement from Apple last week.

What I, and many other critics heard was, “The iPhone 7 is just like the iPhone 6s, except it comes in a new shade of black, it’s water resistant, it has a better camera, and we have removed the headphone jack.” That’s right. If you haven’t yet heard, the newest iPhone has no place to plug in a pair of headphones. To listen to your music, Apple will sell you a pair of wireless headphones for an additional $150 more than the arm and leg spent to purchase the new phone.

Look, I’m not trying to sell iPhones here, but there is a method to Apple’s madness that we just can’t see without taking a closer look. For example, what you and I see as a pair of headphones with no wires, Apple sees as a glimpse into the future. Imagine a phone so smart and so advanced that it doesn’t need a screen. Apple even went so far as to spend over $3 billion acquiring the company Beats to make this transition, and they invented a wireless processing chip called the W1 to power the world’s smartest headphones. The “new” camera is so good, it has depth perception…that means it can interpret hand gestures and other data in 3D space and can even render a 3D model of your head. Yeah…those 3D hologram messages from Star Wars, the computers from Minority Report—it’s happening people.

Forgive me if I seem a little overexcited, but all of that has a legitimate point. This week, I’ve had the great pleasure of filming a few of our church members sharing their personal testimonies as we head into the October giving campaign. Hearing each of them share how their faith makes a difference in their lives is truly inspiring. After we finished the last video, we stood around talking for a bit and the subject of an upcoming memorial service came up. It was the service of 95-year-old Paul Smith. Paul was one of the original members of our church when it was at its first location, Isham Chapel. As we reflected on the church’s moves from Isham Chapel to Harmon Road, then to Elm Street, followed by the expansion to Pipeline, Henry Schraub pointed out something intriguing to me. All of those decisions were made by people who were trying their best to follow what they had discerned was the will of God. They were made long before many of us were even around. Those decisions weren’t unanimous. Some folks got angry and left because of them. There was a time in our church when moving from one location to another seemed almost as crazy as an iPhone with no headphone jack. Those decisions, made by faithful people, have impacted so many more lives than they could ever have thought possible. Very similarly, the choices our church makes today will impact the lives of people who aren’t even alive yet, who won’t even get here until long after we’re gone. Will they say, 100 years from now, that we played it safe and took the route of self-preservation? Or, will they say that we heeded God’s call and took big risks in order to transform the community around us. Only time will tell, but today we stand in the present; firmly rooted in our past, but poised to step into a future filled with hope for the world around us. The world and its needs are ever changing so, one thing is for certain—we can’t stay here. So, what about you? Is it about time to try something crazy?

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