Message Over Method
Imagine that it is the beginning of time. The world is uncorrupted and healthy. God tells you that you have one job: farm. You don’t have to worry about sleeping, getting tired, or eating. All you have to do is farm. You will receive a reward when the end comes. But don’t worry, the reward isn’t dependent upon how well the crops grow. It is contingent upon what kind of effort you give in your task to spread seeds. That’s the mission He gives you. That’s the message!
As you begin to perform your task, you start off by digging with your hands because this is the only way to go about your mission. Eventually, you see rocks and begin using them to help you get to the end result that God required. They are a tool for you! Next, you realize that it would be more expedient for you to attach a stick to the rock so that you can dig more effectively. Suddenly, you see animals run across the fields, and you think to yourself, “I can train these animals, put a yoke around them, and attach a machine to the yoke so I can spread even more seeds!” Later, you here about a gas-powered vehicle and you come up with the idea to use a tractor and accomplish even more. Eventually, you buy a robot that can go three times as fast as the tractor and cover twice as much land at once. All you have to do is maintain the machines.
You never changed the message of God. The mission is the same; having the same end result. The only thing that changed was the method by which you carried out this mission. There would have been nothing necessarily wrong with using your hands the entire time. But don’t you think God would rather you use the resources that accomplish the most; given the culture you are in? He wanted you to spread as many seeds as possible. This reminds me of the parable of the talents (talent means money in this context) in Matthew 25. While there is nothing wrong with going about things in the “old ways” and while we shouldn’t judge others for loving their traditions, there is a sense of responsibility for the Christian to know the philosophies, culture, and resources of his time. NEVER change the message. NEVER change the end result. But ALWAYS be willing to invest yourself in different avenues of expediency. We are called to spread spiritual seed. Are you buried in the sand (Matt. 25)? Change the method, not the message. God will give the increase (1 Cor. 3) – Jesse