What we are talking about here is the suggestion that climate change problems will be resolved, simply because (it is imagined) the world’s environment may inevitably be tuned to self-correct. The proposal was developed by Dr Lovelock in the 1970s and has been refined by others. Lovelock adopted the name Gaia, as in mythology she was supposedly a goddess who controlled the Earth. It is a bit unfair to use the rather shorthand description of the hypothesis in our first sentence. The scientific community would have good reason to take issue with it, since the proposers and rejecters of the hypothesis have armed themselves with more supporting data than would fit in all the blogs on this website! In terms of explanatory value, the Gaia hypothesis is rather frightening, as it seems it’s outworking would currently necessitate either a significant reduction in human population, or reversion to pre-industrial age living standards, or both! Is the human race even facing extinction? Yet the hypothesis assumes continuity of life, but without explaining Life’s origin (a fatal flaw also in the belief of some that everything can be explained by evolution, because nothing can evolve until it exists).
The Gaia hypothesis is not intended to have any religious merit; it is supposed to be purely based on natural science observations. However, reportedly noted adversaries of the hypothesis include well-known atheists. Atheists object to such hypothetical Gaia-type conclusions in part because they do not think the universe, or even our small corner of it, is purposeful. They believe, with great confidence, that random purposeless events are the cause for what we can now see and experience, and biologically DNA conveniently secures continuity of favourable outcomes. So the idea that there may be some inbuilt aspects, actually designed to favourably correct unwanted changes in the Earth’s environment is immediately rejected. Christians should have no such problems with the thought of design being evident in the universe, but that doesn’t mean they should just accept a secular Gaia-type hypothesis. If you’re interested, read on HERE.
The company that owns the world’s largest social media platform is changing its name to Meta. Although meta is a prefix long used in English, what it means and why it is used are not subject to uniform views. For instance it can mean “beyond”, or “behind”, or “after”, or “changed”. Really, it is what comes after the prefix that helps us understand why it used. Thus, metadata refers to large scale data sets that may reveal greater insights about trends and developing concerns that are not apparent when looking at the detailed data one by one. There seems little doubt that the decision by Facebook’s owners to invest multi-billions of dollars in “metaverse” projects indicates why they have chosen their new name. But what is the metaverse?
Metaverse is a combination of meta and universe. It is intended to describe how technology can enable people to experience interactions not possible in the real physical universe. One aspect of the metaverse is the use of virtual reality to engage in games, or even business communications. Instead of interacting by being physically with other people, an electronic substitute is used, often called an avatar. The avatar may be given abilities to compete or communicate that are beyond the restrictions of normal life. By virtual reality, it is implied that something is very nearly, but not quite, the same as the real thing. As long as we don’t forget what the reality is, a close substitute can be very helpful. But often it seems the objective of virtual reality is to move a person into a completely unreal world, where they can be absorbed in experiences that can never be physically realized. And it also absorbs lots of time!
So much for the scene-setting, although we shall not do justice here to the potential benefits of clearer communication as technology moves on. We are more concerned about unexpected and unwanted downsides. The metaverse may be a surprising development for you or me, but it is no surprise to God! The idea of people wanting to escape from the drudgery and unwelcome limitations of real human existence is not new. For millennia there have been some who would try to enter a spirit world, to gain information or insights that others would not possess. God condemned such exploits, which often masked the intent of the evil adversary of God, Satan. See Deut.18:9-14. In a demonic twist he now induces people to exchange the real world for an imaginary one, and he deceives people into thinking evil is fun, whereas being in strong control of your thinking is made to appear boring. Check out 2 Tim.3:13 or Tit.3:3 or Col.2:18-23 for starters to verify these issues (and contact us if you need more references). In this context, the increasing use of hallucinogenic drugs and absorbing fantasy games is to be expected.
This is a website that attempts to give a biblical perspective, a Christian viewpoint, that addresses real-life concerns and interests. So, we must draw attention to Bible instruction like Peter’s words: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.1:13). Or again: “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Pet.5:8). Or the words of the Lord Jesus: ““But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap” (Lk.21:34). The battle is for the mind, and if allow our attention to be devoted to the unreal but attractive challenges of augmented reality or virtual reality, we may find our headsets are robbing our heads of their proper purpose! Christians are not immune to the drawing power of imagery, that can entangle them again in unprofitable pursuits (2 Pet.2:20). Entertaining ourselves in a virtual world cannot improve our usefulness in the real world, the world of people who need a Saviour to deliver them from eternal loss, not just a reduced point score or poor competitor ranking in a forgettable game. Paul summarizes the real battlefield: “… we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor.10:3-5). And if we are to succeed in taking the thoughts of others captive, we must start by carefully managing our own!
Many more examples could be cited, all indicating Christians need to be mentally alert, living in the expectation they will soon stand before their Maker. That may not leave us much time to spend in the metaverse!
Here are a few lines of poetic verse in rather dated English style, that will make more sense to us after reading Mk.4:35-41 and Acts 27:13-44.
“It was not so just now! I turned aside With aching head, and heart, most sorely bowed; Around me cares and griefs in crushing crowd, While icily rose the sense, in swelling tide, Of weakness, insufficiency, and sin, And fear, and gloom, and doubt in mighty flood rolled in.
That rushing flood I had no strength to meet, Nor power to flee; my present, future, past, Myself, my sorrow, and my sin I cast. In utter helplessness at Jesus’ feet; Then bent me to the storm, if such His will. He saw the winds and waves, and whispered, ‘Peace, be still! ‘ “
Now we may contemplate the words of Rom.8, which says in part:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Many readers of this post will be familiar with Acts 2:42. There we are told that those who believed what Peter preached about Christ had some new responsibilities. They were to “continue steadfastly” in the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. If you check out our “About” page, you’ll see the church of God in Mount Forest sees these Bible statements as still very much applicable today, and we provide some information on how we comply with them.
But what do you do if, for health and safety reasons, the whole church cannot all meet in one place to steadfastly keep to these biblical fundamentals?
If you want to learn more about how we tackled that responsibility during the many months of the Covid pandemic, please check out our page titled Into One Place, in our Resources section.
In many developed countries the Covid-19 lockdown measures meant people have had to work from home. Now, in countries that have been able to supply vaccination to the majority of their people, a return to working in a company’s place of business is in process. It will not be the same! Although working at home has disadvantages and challenges for both companies and their employees, it has also had some benefits. For those working from home, one advantage has been the ability to include some flexibility in their work life. Breaks have reduced the monotony of some tasks. The freedom from being under the eye of an unfair boss has lessened the stress that can bring. A worker has had more liberty to choose how they will accomplish their assigned tasks, and they might prefer to do things, so to speak: “my way” instead of being closely supervised.
It is quite likely that to the surprise of many supervisors, worker productivity has actually been better while employees have enjoyed these partial freedoms. So, as people return to their old workplaces, we are likely to see some changes in management techniques, away from so-called micro-management and more towards mutually aiming for achievement of targets rather than forcing compliance with detailed procedures.
Christians are to live by what the Bible says. There we read that God approves of applying effort to accomplish assigned tasks. For instance, in terms of work ethic the Bible commends adopting an attitude of working “as for the Lord and not for men” (Col.3:23) and not just working as “people pleasers”. These statements were originally written to people in a society where slavery was a painful reality. Even in such a harsh context, Eph.6:6 says: “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” In one of His parables, Jesus spoke of work providing opportunity to enrich others, with greater rewards for those who achieved the most (Matt.25:14-30). He was using an everyday challenge to illustrate a very serious spiritual day of reckoning. For the Christian, therefore, the opportunity or necessity to work from home has not provided an excuse for slacking in any way, and a return to the pre-Covid workplace shouldn’t either! Surely a greater goal would be fair reward for work done.
These Bible truths must be balanced with instructions given to those who manage others. For instance, Eph.6:9 and Col.4:1 note threatening behaviour is wrong and God will take note of it, and fairness needs to be demonstrated. While the Bible accurately records historical settings of slavery, it does not require that practice in human government or even commend it. In fact, it endorses the appropriateness of obtaining release from it if possible (1 Cor.7:21). This in no way lessens the reality of Christians having been bought by Christ and living now to serve Him. So we read “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body” (1 Cor.6:19,20).
So the idea of “increased workplace autonomy” a “My Way” approach, may become a popular slogan, but Christians must at all times consider themselves as not so much autonomous, self-ruling, but as those who are ruled by the kindest and most loving ruler, Christ. Serving Him wholeheartedly will then make us better managers and better employees. We are Christians 24/7, not just when we attend church meetings!
How many pockets is enough? A workman may find it helpful to have lots of tools handy. When working in tight spaces it is frustrating to have to crawl out and go back to the toolbox to pick up what you need to get the job done. There’s a moral in that, isn’t there?
Some Bible verses deal with this issue directly. Paul writes to Timothy: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim.4:2). Be prepared, he says. Good advice. How many times have we found ourselves saying: “If only I’d…”?
Paul had already explained how we can prepare to be helpful to others in what we say. He told Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim.2:15). If we do not know “the word of truth” we will not be able to use it effectively.
When writing to Christians in Ephesus, Paul taught them: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:11-13).
So now we know that as Christians our equipment needs have been provided. We can be taught! And if we commit to memory the instructions given by our Teacher, and learn correctly how to use them, we can be prepared to bring helpful messages to others. It is not the Bible in one of your pockets, but the word of God in your mind and heart that will be the tool God can use so you can reason with and persuade others. But if we think of our minds as having many pockets, we can fill them in an orderly way so that we are able to retrieve the information we need, when we don’t have the time to go back to the toolbox! The Holy Spirit delights to remind us, but to do that we must first have put the word of truth safely in our hearts, prepared and ready for His use (Jn 14:26).
In the late 1800s, some serious Bible students got together and tried to figure out what vital teaching was missing from the practices of the churches at that time. The result was the production of a magazine called “Needed Truth”, which was intended to supply information that would fill the identified gaps. The magazine is still going strong, and you can review the current issue and the archives (for free!) at this link: NT. Use it to fill your “pockets” and fully equip your service.
Because we have not been able to invite people in to our church meetings because of the pandemic, we have instead tried to take our meetings out to the public. Each Saturday night we can be seen on Wightman TV channel 6, at 8:00pm.
You may not be a Wightman subscriber, or even be in their broadcast area, but you can still see our programs. We have uploaded them to our Youtube channel. By all means check them out here.
There you’ll find 30-minute programs from our past year’s talks. We usually try to also include some Christian music/singing, which we hope will be to your liking. Most of it is rather traditional, but check it out: the lyrics are always great!
If what you watch interests you, by all means contact us with your comments or questions, or tell us what subjects you’d like us to cover in our future talks. We’re listening too!
This is a brief comment on things worth considering
when life seems to be presenting too many challenges, when things are going
wrong and you need to stop and consider: why?
And think about the best way forward.
These are only notes; contact us if you need any point
to be developed in more detail.
Likewise, if you’d prefer to listen to a talk on this subject, we can
provide a link to a recording.
What have you done with it? Well, perhaps you didn’t notice you had it. We’re talking about that precious commodity: time. We all only have 168 hours a week, and we’re told a lot of us spend a major proportion of it sleeping! But for a large segment of the working population another huge use of our time has been spent travelling to and from work: commuting time. But over the past year, the pandemic changed that. “WFH” crept into texting language. Work from home became a reality for many more people. For some it has been welcome, as it provided more flexibility. For some it added untold additional mental stress, as it came with extra home duties, including perhaps being an unpaid teacher of sorts. How that has changed our valuation of those noble folk who follow a calling to be full-time teachers! Much more could be said about such related aspects.
Here, we just want to focus on how for many people the cessation of a need to spend time commuting has introduced new possibilities. As the world entered into the period of the pandemic, economists feared that there would be enormous global economic recession. Some industry sectors have indeed been very harshly affected, especially those related to entertainment and non-essential retail trades. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, in other sectors productivity has in fact improved. Part of the reason is that workers have turned commute time into work time. Some businesses may also have been able to cut costs associated with accommodating workers in office buildings, but it is the time issue we’re thinking about. This is where we find an extension of Parkinson’s Law: as we have more time available, we find more work to fill it!
Before our minds go off on an unproductive tangent, let’s just refocus and remember this is a church website, and we are looking for spiritual opportunities. 1 How much time did you formerly spend going to and from meetings of your church? In many large cities and towns, church congregations have tended to move further and further away from their initial centre, as property prices and the needs for good education and other family priorities led people to relocate some distance away from the church’s building. The venue for meeting didn’t move as the people moved, so the result was a commuting church. For some, that meant (pre-pandemic) the time actually spent meeting with the church was only half of the commute time! Also, for workday meetings, those in families often had to leave youngsters at home to do school homework, so numbers attending church meetings mid-week inevitably were lower. Video-conferencing has changed all that! It has given us back the opportunity to be at the church meeting without paying for it in commuting time, and it has enabled far more people to attend. Of course it is not the same attending by video-link as it is when we can shake hands, and even enjoy a coffee together after our spiritual priorities have been met. But have we invested the commute time profitably?
More to the point perhaps, what have we learned from the experience, and how are we hoping to ensure benefits are not lost as the world bounces back? 2 Will we just bounce backwards with them, or can we see how to “bounce forward”. Now we know better than ever how important it is to be close to people, will we go back to getting in our cars to do that, or will we refocus more locally? Will we look for opportunities to be close enough to fellow church goers so that a long commute can be avoided? Will our Christian testimony among near neighbours result in others being drawn to share our faith as they get to know us better from more frequent local contact and our greater contribution to local community activity? Will we continue to find strengthening through online prayer times, that are better informed as we see one another more frequently and understand needs better? Or will we just contribute to more carbon dioxide emissions until we can afford a new electric-powered car?
We are at an inflection point, a pivot point. It is easy to simply resume where we left off pre-pandemic and recommence the commuting church experience. For some of us that might be the only, or even the best, solution. For others, fresh fields of opportunity could lie ahead. The old picture of the man trying to keep a foot on the boat and another on the dock illustrates the difficulty of a pivot point. Perhaps we can almost hear the command of the Master: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” 3. Let us consider our direction prayerfully, with attention to the Master’s instruction book and roadmap.
The House Churches of Mount Forest bring you something every day to think about from the Bible
Don’t go on hearsay. Read the facts yourself!
Why not try our Bible Reading Plan, to read the whole Bible over three years, one day at a time? Its updated each weekend. And we always keep a few weeks readings in view, in case you need to catch up!