Incredulous and amazed

Recently I was taking in a bit of light reading, you know, the classic summer beach novel: easy to read, entertaining, … and no I don’t remember the title. But I remember this, there are good guys being chased by bad guys. The good guys are only armed with their wit, imagination, guile, luck, and their paranoid friend who believes every conspiracy theory is true. But then again, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

The premise is that everything in the world has an RFID chip imbedded in it. RFID – radio frequency identification, a technology that uses magnetic fields to identify and track objects. When the good guys decide to use cash only so that they stay off the grid, it doesn’t matter because their credit cards and driver’s licenses have RFID chip that, although still in their wallets and purses, are detected by the RFID scanner at the checkout counter. As the novel races along the bad guys are tracking the good guys via RFID locators. The good guys keep emptying their lives getting rid of driver’s licenses, credit cards, passports, access badges for work, the toll road card, the groceries and clothes they just purchased for cash, their cell phones… and still the bad guys keep coming. It is right about then that their conspiracy-theory friend asks if any one recently received a free flu shot – because you know the government puts biometric RFID nannites in the vaccine so that they can track everyone.

Holy guacamole! There is no place to hide! The bad guys can pick you out of a crowd of a million people. Ok…spoiler alert: the good guys eventually win. But since I don’t remember the title of the book, you are probably free to enjoy your next beach book.

What makes the novel enjoyable and the reader willing to go along for the ride. The writer is gifted, the characters interesting, the storyline is succinct – all that and more – but it is also our willingness to believe in the technology. We know RFID tech is out there: SunPass, passports, credit cards. If you have participated in the Gasparilla Classic, your time was tracked by RFID. Amazon Go, their new supermarket concept, operates on RFID. Pets can be tagged with RFID so that when lost they can be found… wait a minute… we can RFID tag our kids so they won’t be lost … or at the party we told them not to attend.  Let your imagination run wild and suddenly you are a character in the novel whose name I can’t remember. All that is needed is a little imagination and belief in the power of technology. I guess technology overcomes the old adage, “seeing is believing.”

“Seeing and believing” is the question at the core of many of the readings and gospels during the Easter season. How much do we need to see in order to believe? Last week the Apostle Thomas declared he would not believe until he saw and touched the risen Lord. In this week’s gospel, Jesus says (almost pleads?)

“‘And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. … they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed.”

It is the human demand that we see something before we believe something…unless, of course, it has to do with technology.

Why is technology so believable and God is unbelievable to so many people? Maybe it is because technology is useful to us, its impersonal and so we are not required to emotionally invest in it, and we think we can control it. God can’t be controlled, asks of us a deeply personal relationship in which we are invested, can makes demands of us, and those demands are often not useful or convenient.

Besides, how could God possibly know me, really know me? How could Christ possibly love me, have died for me and my sins? How could God pick me out of a crowd of a million or a billion people – and love me? You know what?… I’ll believe it when I see it. And there’s the rub. The need to see, to know, to experience something very personal in the One who is Lord and Savior.

For millennia we continued to tell the story of Easter, of Jesus, of the apostles and disciples of the early church, so that in the telling of the story, you might begin to know Jesus. Did you know that not one single Resurrection story involved a stranger? Not once did the Risen Christ appear to someone who did not know him, someone who would not recognize in him something very personal… the sound of his voice/Mary Magdalen, the wounds in his hands/Thomas, the compassion in his eyes/the disciple whom Jesus loved, the experience of forgiveness/Peter. It is all there is the stories of Jesus, right there in the Bible.

Maybe that should be your next read. Spoiler alert: the good guys win, the world is saved, and the hero of the story can pick you out of a crowd of billions and billions – and love you, forgive you, and want to be with you for all eternity. You should get to know the hero of this story. It is as the Apostle John wrote: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”

Read the greatest story ever told. Come to know the One who really knows you and really loves you, and in the knowing believe, and in belief have eternal life.

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