7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
- Psalm 139:7-12 (ESV)
I usually like technology. It often makes my life a bit more comfortable. When I'm binge watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix, ordering and paying for a Big Mac from the comfort of my couch using the Uber Eats app on my phone, I know that I've got it good - really good. Thanks to technology and free market capitalism, I'm pretty sure that I live better than all of my ancestors combined - and with one swab of DNA sent to Ancestry.com, I could probably find out!
However, if I'm honest, I'll confess that technology sometimes makes me very uncomfortable. It can downright creep me out. I'm probably never more terrified than when Facebook ads seem clairvoyant. How does Mark Zuckerberg know that I want to buy a hammock? I understand his advertisements for Omaha Steaks. My pokerface for direct mail meat is non-existent. What I don't understand for the life of me is how Facebook knows I'm thinking - thinking - about suspending myself on mesh between two trees this summer.
Has that ever happened to you? You're scrolling through your Facebook feed and see an advertisement that leaves you wondering if you're on the Truman Show?
Last week, my friend had a conversation over lunch with a coworker about visiting a resort. Later in the day, when she sat down at her work computer, she found an ad for that very resort on her timeline! That schtuff would impress even George Orwell.
What is it that freaks me most about this technology? It's certainly not amazing deals on hammocks or steak. I rather enjoy those. It's that I know technology can be used for less than noble purposes, and that a person's otherwise private thoughts can be used against them - not just for them.
Instinctively, we understand that to be known is to be vulnerable, and that increased vulnerability is a doubled-edged sword. It can enable us to enjoy deeper levels of acceptance, but also expose us to deeper levels of judgment. Our greatest source of consternation is therefore not so much at what level we're known, but rather by whom we're known.
This can lead us to a life of hiding, trying to conceal our truest selves from those around us - even God. We fear and avoid exposure because exposure usually means judgement. However, our hiding provides no true salvation. If we cannot be truly known, we cannot be truly loved. Hiding from judgement isn't the same thing as finding acceptance.
Sadly, this is exactly what reduces much religion to little more than a rather ironic quest to hide from God privately while worshipping him publicly. We plaster a thin veneer of religious beliefs and behaviors over our true selves, hiding from judgment but never finding acceptance.
Thankfully, Jesus offers us so much better.
Child of God: Jesus knew everything about you, but came here anyway. He entered this world and the story of your redemption eyes wide open. He knows all about you - all. You could not be more known or vulnerable than before the probing insight of his omniscient gaze; the splendor of his omnipotent might; and the inescapability of his omnipresence. Before him, you're laid bare.
Yet, there is no judgment. He's already born it for you, in your place. It's gone, all of it - never to be remembered again. Jesus ran to judgement so that you no longer need to run from it. You don't need to hide. You can't anyway. And, knowing how much he loves you, why would you want to?
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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