By Dr. James C. Denison
Pastor for Teaching, Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas
September 23, 2008
Topic: true Christianity
I’m cloudy about computing
I’m doing “cloud computing” by writing this essay, or at least I think I am. I didn’t know that before I read this morning’s Wall Street Journal, where I discovered the term and its multiplicity of meanings. I knew that clouds were condensed water vapor, and assumed they would not be good for electronic devices such as my laptop. But apparently they can also describe an activity such as the one you’re reading right now.
As I understand it, the term “cloud computing” has something to do with the idea that computers connected via the Internet can do their processing in a way which transcends the capacities of the individual machines. The “cloud” describes this collective online work, or at least it used to. You and I are all part of the GodIssues “cloud,” I presume. But technology professionals are bemoaning the way “cloud computing” has come to mean anything a company wants it to. “We’re in that nutty stage,” says one CEO, who complains that the term is “absolutely too broad right now.” (I don’t know about you, but I always think of software engineers as “nutty.”)
Words don’t hold still for long. I have a dictionary my parents gave me in the sixth grade; the word “computer” does not appear therein. I’m old enough to remember when “cool” was “hot” and “hot” was “cool”; nowadays my sons roll their eyes at such vestiges of antiquity.
The same thing happens in the spiritual world, sometimes for good. For instance, I remember the days when someone might ask what your “religion” is, meaning your denomination. Today we have hopefully moved past such divisiveness, recognizing that Baptists and Methodists and Catholics all worship the same Lord.
But sometimes spiritual words change in a way which helps no one. C. S. Lewis points out the fact that “gentleman” was once a very specific title used to identify a member of the landed gentry; nowadays it means a guy who does something decent, or even a name on a restroom door.
Unfortunately, “Christian” has suffered a similar fate. In the Bible it refers to those people who have asked Jesus Christ to forgive their sins and choose to follow him as their Master and Lord. Today it refers to anyone who believes in God and tries to be good. I hope you’re not confused by such cloudy semantics. Do you remember the time you asked Jesus to become your personal Lord? If you do, you’re a “Christian” and will always be God’s child. If not, why not today?