The Human Relay
Robert Wurtz II
Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 KJV)
Several weeks ago I shared an article I entitled Commercial Christianity that sparked some interesting and insightful conversations on sermonindex.net. I would like to visit an important point that was brought up by bro. Mike C. that has had me thinking ever sense. He writes:
“Over 100 years ago, Samuel Morse demonstrated how long distant communication would soon become mass communication. The invention he used to anticipate mass communication was not the telegraph but the repeater. Morse’s telegraph had an upper range of less then 300 miles, and so every 200 miles the railroads would hire a man to sit in a remote outpost to receive and resend the incoming messages. It wasn’t long before they realized this repeat could be achieved just by mechanically linking the receiver coil to another sender coil, to begin a new 200 mile loop. In this way a single message was able to criss-cross a national network.
So the telegraph enabled long distant communication, but it was the invention of the relay or the repeater that opened the door to mass communication.
We human beings often overlook, or can’t see, that we can be just another type of relay or repeater in the circuitry of mass communication if we aren’t careful. I find that many people can hardly tell the different between someone else’s mind and their own.”
While visiting a Museum in southern Missouri last week I came across a display that was a visual for M.C’s comments.
This relay is a simple electromechanical device that resends a message identical to what was sent to it. It has no way whatsoever to discern, nor is it concerned with the accuracy or relevance of what it transmits. As the old saying goes, “good in = good out” or “garbage in = garbage out.” M.C. brings the application home in real terms, “We human beings often overlook, or can’t see, that we can be just another type of relay or repeater in the circuitry of mass communication if we aren’t careful.” Certainly we don’t want to be blind repeaters. But we can be, if we are not careful. How can we be careful?
Prove all things
The solution for abuse is not “non-use” it is “right-use”. To prevent ourselves from becoming mindless repeaters of information we need to act more like a fire–wall. Firewall’s are intended to prevent unwanted intrusions into computers or literal fires into the passenger compartment of a car. We can‘t stop other people from being repeaters, but we can make sure the false information stops with us. Because once we resend something or repeat something we are responsible for passing it on. This is why everything needs to be tested. Paul gives us counsel, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24) A good question to ask is “is this helpful?” Another good question to ask, “does it edify (build up).” How can we know what is helpful or edifying?
Is it true?
As Christians we need to know if what we are about to “repeat” is true. This means, true to the facts. We also want to know if what we are repeating is true Biblically. Paul told us that our loins are to be gird about with truth. This is what holds all of our armor together. Jesus told us that we are to worship in “spirit and in truth”. This is contrasted with “soul and in lies”. What we teach needs to be true. what we sing needs to be true. Our Christian example needs to be true. Why? Because someone is going to repeat them. Are they repeatable?
Nothing is more important to our spiritual survival than our attitude towards truth. If we have a slapdash attitude towards truth we will be deceived. If we live in the realm of approximations, we are vulnerable. That is to say, if we are haphazard about how we think about things or how we divide the word of truth and measure doctrines, teachings, miracles, prophesies, etc., then we are apt to be deceived. We have to learn to think critically. Don’t just believe everything you hear and then repeat it. Some saying sound very good and tickle the ears but they are false. Some things make sense to the natural man, but they are contrary to sound doctrine.
Standing for truth
Standing for truth means we have to be on guard against lies. We can’t even worship God unless it is in spirit and in truth. If something is discovered to have been founded on lies we are to put it away and speak only truth. Sometimes I get apologetic emails from Christian’s that passed a story on only to find out later that it was all a farce. It is good to write a retraction when we have passed on error, but what happens when a lie is discovered and it is already embedded in the hearer?
I recall a story of a man of God that was asked to do a radio interview in a studio. As the show comes on the host employed “canned applause” as if there were an audience. He then announced the man’s name and welcomed him. The man of God stopped him. “This is all false,” he says… “There is no one here in this studio with us!” needless to say the man of God was shown the door. but we need to have an attitude towards truth like that. Away with lies and fabrications. Away with pretense. God is not interested in a show, He desires truth in the inward parts. Our culture has ruined many of Christian for truth. Will God receive service that is founded on a lie? Obviously not, because He already said we must worship in Spirit and in Truth. If we cannot take a stand for truth in the small things, we will never stand the test when the real battle comes.
Who am I?
I wish to close these thoughts by examining M.C.’s final comment, “I find that many people can hardly tell the difference between someone else’s mind and their own.” I recall in High School a situation in which a student was behaving very similarly to another student. My English teacher identified the behavior as “an affected personality”. I have heard of disorders like this, but she really was searching for a way to describe how the person had become a “repeater” of the other person’s mannerisms. The danger is that the person was losing their own identity while subconsciously imitating their friend.
When we constantly feed on repeated information, we allow others to do all the thinking for us. As Christians this will never do. We have to get alone with God and in our own heart allow God to speak to us. This is not to say that good teaching is not useful, but we need to prove everything that seeks to influence us and become a part of our thinking process. This is especially true for teachers. James said that teachers (masters) will receive the greater or stricter judgment. (James 3:1 KJV) We have this historical account in Acts, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 ESV) These events were ca. 49 AD. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians that we quoted from above dates to ca. 52 AD. They were not very discerning in the beginning, but Paul exhorted them, “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Why? Because we are accountable for what we repeat.