Have you noticed that, however much technology advances, some of the underlying problems remain the same? Take for example what I shall choose to call ‘finger-tip writing’. Almost exactly 150 years ago, the first commercially successful typewriter was invented by some gentlemen in Wisconsin, USA., and within twenty years they had become commonplace in offices. The next major development was the word processor, early forms of which arrived in the 1960s, and later still the media that we’re most familiar with today, computers and mobile phones.
The problem that they’ve tried to overcome, but where success has never been completely achieved, is speeling … sorry, spelling. Early typists would have had desk-side dictionaries; with advances in education, people relied on their own skills, but inevitably errors crept into their work. In the electronic age, we gained ‘spell-checker’ software, and now most phones include predictive text … which can come up with some unfortunate misfires of its own from time to time!
Perhaps the most dangerous – certainly the one I want to focus on today – is the spell checker. Occasionally – arguably more often in a technical environment – a word will be checked that isn’t found in the in-built dictionary and so, upon request, it is added to a ‘user dictionary’ managed by the software.
The story goes that a notoriously bad-spelling typist was writing to a friend about a recent holiday when – to her amazement – spell-checker threw out ‘beutiful experiance’, two common words, she thought, that ought to be there. Unfazed, she forgave the program and added them to the user dictionary, so they never caused a problem from then on.
By now, of course, you’ll be asking whether this foray into office history has anything to do with faith. Turn to the last page in your Bible and read Revelation 22:18-19. The Bible, as the Word of God, is sometimes referred to as the template for human life. Like the typed page and the spell-checker, it’s a good idea to run our own lives past this template once in a while, to spot where we’re going wrong.
However, the Bible doesn’t have a ‘user-definable area’ where we can note our own exceptions: exclusion clauses that we can individually claim. It’s easy, of course, to read a verse – or more – and decide, on whatever grounds, that it doesn’t apply to us, or only under certain circumstances. However, whatever adjustments we might make in our own minds, the original is still there, still condemning us, whether or not we choose to recognise that. God’s Word is as it is, whether we like it or not. We don’t have the authority to make changes. It’s version 1.0, and it will never change. The only remedy for lives that don’t match up is our belief in Jesus, the divine Eraser: we appeal to the forgiveness He won for us on the Cross and start again from now on … aiming to keep our future lives within the template.