Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
I was visiting with someone the other day when we got to talking about technology and how fast it has grown just in my lifetime.
When I married Sherry 34 years ago the Piggly Wiggly store near our house had a vacuum tube tester. Many of you don’t know what that is. Our first TV set had vacuum tubes, not transistors. When the set stopped working you could look in the back and the tube that wasn’t glowing was probably bad. You’d pop that tube out, take it to the test center at Piggly Wiggly, and check the tube. If it tested bad you bought another, took it home, and put it in your set. When I entered the Air Force a lot of our equipment used tubes, not transistors. Transistors came later, replacing tubes. Semi-conductors and microprocessors replaced transistors. No longer can you look at a broke TV and look for the missing glow. In fact, we no longer fix electronic stuff, but we carry it off to landfills and contribute to pollution.
When I was a child we had record players and records. Records were replaced with compact disks, compact disks are being replaced with digital video disks, and all are being replaced with smart phones. My first computer was a TRS 80 Model 3, which had a green screen with greenish words on it. The thing weighed 80 pounds, and had a 100 million byte hard drive on it. Today’s smart phones have more storage – but we throw away 150 million of them every year because they cannot be repaired.
We can’t repair the miniaturized, flat screen, portable made in China technology stuff that is filling our landfills. But we need to repair what all this stuff is doing to our society. We need to return to the old paths.
I walked in a restaurant the other day and saw a family of five sitting at a table ignoring one another. There was mom and dad, an older brother and sister, and a baby at the table. Everyone at the table except the baby was texting somebody else. They stopped long enough to order something to eat, then went back to ignoring one another. They are interacting with machines while ignoring what matters most.
A machine cannot take the place of relationships and community. We need to return to the old paths. We need to spend quality time with God and with other humans, face to face, touch to touch. Our nation is not dying because of the economy. Our nation is dying because of a lack of civility, a lack of old timey decency toward one another. We are forgetting that God made us relational.
When I was a child I remember going to granddaddy’s house on Saturday. I’d play with my cousins and brother all day then, at night, we’d get in the tub and wash off the black soil from our skin. We’d gather around the supper table and as we ate we talked to one another. The next day we went to Church as a family. We believed what the preacher said, because what he preached was out of the Book. After Church we sat down again at the table, ate, and loved one another. If visitors came by at the dinner hour they were made to sit at the table and eat with the family. Afterward we went out to the front porch and, as we kids played quietly, the adults shared the news of the community with one another. We loved. We shared. We communicated. We cared for God and for one another.
In our country today the Republicans blame the Democrats, the Democrats the Republicans, and the Libertarians blame them both. Yet neither party will talk to the other. We’re so busy being right that we don’t care that the country is burning down. We need to go back to the old paths in our families, in our churches, in our communities, and especially in our nation. It’s time we stopped the blame game.
Every person has value, and every person should be at least listened to and considered in the light of God’s love. We must move back to community. Love is the answer. We must move back to family. Love is the solution to our problems. We must turn off the technology and turn to the old paths of Church and Family and Community, sharing and loving one another and our God.
Christ has shown us the way.