Sometimes the obvious is little difficult to recognise. That’s why you might not have recognised that over the last few decades we have been transitioning out of our old world into the new world that we are now living in! We will remember the old world as the time when the world was much simpler, less connected, and international travel was restricted to the wealthy. You might recognise our new world by noting that it’s much more complex, much more connected, much more technological, much more instant, and much more travelled. Added to this, the old world was when things took time. When you ‘wrote’ to someone overseas it took weeks for your ‘message’ to be delivered. In this new and complex world you can communicate with someone on the other side of the planet instantly and even do it by live video! Back in the old world, power was centralised – movies used to come out Hollywood, software used to be developed in Silicon Valley, all fashion originate out of Paris, and the world’s financial powerhouses were all based based in Wall Street. In today’s new world, the most watched moving pictures are made by teenagers on their smart-phones, software is now called an app and is made by someone with a laptop sitting at their kitchen table, and a twenty-two-year-old Tasmanian RMIT fashion student now designs clothes that are admired all around the world. This is no longer your grandmother’s world and the portal we are all about to walk through into the new world will also have spiritual implications as well.
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled
and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
HOW THE NEW WORLD OF COMPLEXITY BEGAN WITH THE MOON
In 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon it marked the dawn of the coming new world of complexity. The moon landing was an amazingly complex operation. NASA stated that it involved 400,000 people to enable it to happen! But the efforts to get Apollo 11 to the moon and two of the three astronauts on the moon spawned a raft of new technologies including satellite communications which would eventually transform television, radio, telephony, and the development of global positioning satellites (GPS). No longer would the world need undersea communication cables to communicate with each other. Thanks to this satellite technology, news could now be reported from anywhere on the planet to anywhere on the planet. The lunar landing proved that what was once thought of as unimaginable might well be possible if an array of experts in their field cooperated together under clear and visionary competent leadership. In 1969, unprecedented complexity had begun.
And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven
is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
WELCOME TO YOUR NEW WORLD OF COMPLEXITY
The new world is a complex world — and we had better get used to it. It is a world made much smaller by affordable international travel, instantaneous global communication, the accessibility of the information, facts, knowledge, and opinions via the world wide web, electronic and digital financial capabilities. We once lived in a world where events on the other side of the planet had little bearing on events in our neighbourhoods — but not anymore — the world is now our neighbourhood. Perhaps this point has become nowhere more obvious than what started in the “Wet Markets” of Wuhan China. We watched the TV reports of this mysterious virus sweeping through a city in China that most of us had, up until then, never heard of. We discovered that this particular Chinese city, Wuhan, has a population of nearly a third the size of the entire population of Australia! When then saw something remarkable, which social commentator, Pastor Mark Sayers, described as emblematic of the new world we have now nearly fully transitioned into: the building of a one-thousand bed state-of-the-art hospital in just seven days!
Mark Sayers describes these two events (COVID-19 breaking out in Wuhan and the Chinese hospital building projects) as emblematic of the new world that we are now in. He reasoned that the virus outbreak which happened in Wuhan travelled around the world in a matter of days – not years (as it might have done in the ‘old world’). Thus, in this new world we are each connected with people around the world more than we realise! Secondly, China’s response to the health crisis by building these hospitals in a matter of days (rather than the years it used to take in the ‘old world’) involved summoning the best earth-works operators, the best engineers, the best architects, the best medical equipment suppliers, the best medical personnel, to build a hospital from scratch in just 7 to 10 days! In the new world, Sayers argues, things can be done far quicker, more efficiently, and safer, than the way it used to happen in the old world. He even stated that this was especially evident with the development of the mRNA vaccines which he said involved the same principles of the Chinese hospital construction projects (a large team of the world’s best virologists, epidemiologists, and bio-chemists – all working cooperatively around the clock to produce this new world vaccine).
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it,
the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.
If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins.
But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CHURCH IN THIS NEW WORLD
These various events are described by Sayers as the indicators that we are now well into the transition from the old world into the new world of complexity. In the old world where life was relatively simple, and all good things took time, it might cause an old world native entering into this strange new world of rapid change, global interconnectedness, and breath-taking technological advancement to be a little overwhelmed. This is certainly the case for many churches who have struggled to navigate through all of the upheaval that this transition has forced upon them. This is why I think that it’s good for Christians to remember these great truths:
(i) God is sovereign. He is LORD of lords and KING of kings (1Tim 6:14-16). None of what is happening has caught God off-guard or taken Him by surprise. In the midst of so much upheaval and change, one thing is certain: God does not change.
(ii) Complexity is not at all difficult for God. God knows the name of every mosquito and every sparrow in the entire world (Luke 12:6). He knows the entire sequence of your genome – in order! (Luke 12:7) While most women can do what no man is capable of doing (do two things at once), God can do 7 trillion things at once and give of these tasks His full attention. We can trust God to manage this manage this complex universe (Luke 1:37).
(iii) What is ‘complex’ and unknown to us is not to God. God knows how much to entrust to you with and has determined that you are capable of handling the part He assigns to you in what seems like His complicated and complex plan (Phil. 2:13).
(iv) Churches are going to have to become used to being comfortable with little more complexity than they were comfortable with in the old world. The new world is a digitally connected world where community has taken on a new meaning. While some churches may have been slow to embrace live-streaming of their services or even reluctant to do so, those churches who have — and have worked at doing it well — have frequently found it to be very fruitful and effective in discipling people. In this new world, screens are here to stay (at least for the moment until hologram technology catches up). In this complicated new world the LORD will assign His people to the “lane” that best suits them and our role in this complex world is to stay in our lane (Matt. 16:18).
(iv) Churches will have to increasingly learn how to connect with each other to pool their effectiveness. I’m one of these rare pastors who actually believes that God has ordained denominations as part of His complex plan for world evangelisation and discipleship. In the new world, one of the keys to success will be the ability to connect. Not only will congregations have to learn how to connect with other congregations, but they will also have to learn how to connect within their own congregations and perhaps utilise new technology to do so (Eph. 4:1-2).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Second Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, fellow followers of the Christ let us not get too nostalgic about the passing of the old world and neither let us become too daunted by all that this new world introduces. In one sense while I am forecasting that our world has become and is increasingly becoming a complicated world, if we keep our eyes on Christ, and do what He calls each of us to do, we can trust that He has this complex world firmly in the grasp of His hand and will ensure that His Father’s plan of redemption will reach its climax at just the appropriate time.
He’s got the whole wide world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got you and me sister in His hands
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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