Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cyberspace and Grace by Jan Darnell

Recently in the grocery store I noticed several shoppers on cell phones with children in tow playing hand held video games. Ah, the age of technology! Wireless circuitry and electronic baby-sitters! Selecting a grocery cart, I headed straight for the aisle of pasta and spaghetti sauce. However, employees were stocking shelves on that aisle, merchandising and communicating quietly through headsets. Even though a hindrance to my dinner plans, I became captivated by the implementation of these electronic tools.

Children without interrupting their games were able to slip by the busy employees; moms pushing carts opted to change direction. I followed suit. Then the oddest thing happened. As if previously rehearsed, the children and their mothers reunited effortlessly and simultaneously in the very next aisle. Technology once again fascinated me. I wasn’t sure how this feat had been accomplished but convinced myself that an electronic gadget had to be responsible.

After the pasta aisle cleared and my shopping was completed, I proceeded to the checkout line. The man in front of me received a call on his cell phone to which he responded by planting his feet firmly where he stood. I was unfortunate enough to be in line behind him.

The attentive clerk signaled for the man to move forward. Then the clerk waited. I waited. People behind me transferred to a different line while I decided to remain and study the situation. “Is this evolution?” I thought. Man evolving to a higher order of intelligence? I recognized indifference but not the intelligence. The age of technology was suddenly losing its’ luster.

“Excuse me sir,” I said. “It’s your turn.” The clerk also motioned again for him to move forward yet he remained entrenched. I became irritated at his captivity because clearly, free thought had been lost…lost in cyberspace!

Then my short study reached a simple conclusion. Our grace space can be altered by the multi-faceted air waves of interpersonal communication. What do I mean by that? Our technological hearts can narrow to the size of wireless phone lines, reducing the greater space necessary to recognize and relate to others respectfully.

I picked out a candy bar from the assortment next to me. Then I selected a bottle of pop to wash down the candy bar. Something good was going to come from this.

Now, I’m not a psychologist, philosophic analyst, or doctor of systematic studies designed to benefit mankind. However, in my meager estimation, now emerging into an opinion, we need to segregate our electronic choices into appropriate fields of usage, exercising restraints that would keep people around us from being ignored. Especially in check-out lines at the grocery store!

Quite honestly, the grace space God meant for us to operate in as relational beings seems to be diminishing across the board in our daily lives. We were created in God’s image to be conduits of His cordial grace. When we lose the capacity to relate to one another gracefully and respectfully, then we no longer reflect our Creator as lights of His glory. Jesus reflected the image of God. Jesus was full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).

Finished with my snack, I tried a different approach, “Excuse me sir, can I have your phone number?” With that, I had his attention. He looked at me as if to say, “Where did you come from?” Then he stepped back finally so that I could proceed to the cashier. At that very moment, the store lost its’ electricity. The computers and registers went down. “Oh no,” the clerk declared. “It will take 20 minutes for the system to reboot!” I could feel my own grace space narrowing like a hardening of the arteries. I took spaghetti off the dinner menu, returned my groceries to their shelves and gave the clerk adequate cash for the candy and pop.

My grace space had been altered by cyberspace.