Today’s printer is a distant cousin to the printing press. A printing press applies pressure to an inked surface resting on a print medium like paper, thereby transferring the ink. Developed by goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg in 1439, the printing press was one of the most influential developments of the second millennium because it began the era of mass communication. In addition to paving the way for mass communication, the printing press increased literacy, bridging the divide between the wealthy ruling class and the poor. It created a middle class as it made education accessible to all. The printing press made ideas and information, including the Bible available to the masses, spurring the Protestant Reformation and weakening the religious monopoly of the increasingly corrupt Roman Catholic Church.
The printers that we use today rely on different mechanics than the pressing of ink to another surface, but the underlying idea is the same: to transfer ideas and information from one source to another or many others.
In the days before Jesus walked this earth, God was accessible to the people in limited ways. God was only understood and experienced as a transcendent God—high, holy, and separate from the people. Due to the inherited sin of Adam and Eve, humanity had become altogether low, unholy and untouchable to a perfectly pure and good God. The gap between God and his people required an intermediary like a prophet, priest, or sometimes a king. But when Jesus came to earth, he fulfilled all three of these roles. While he walked among the people growing up, teaching, preaching, and healing, he was a prophet. He brought God’s message to the people. As he submitted to death on the cross, he fulfilled the role of priest. He made blood sacrifice on behalf of the people (though he was the first and only to offer himself as that sacrifice). His sacrifice was made on behalf of all people through time and space. And at the moment of his resurrection, after he “descended to the dead,” he destroyed the barrier between us and God because in that moment because he had conquered sin and death. (See 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.) Because Christ submitted himself to complete lowliness, God the Father chose to exalt him to the highest place—to his right hand—and made his name exalted among all so that on hearing his name, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD,” (Philippians 2:10-11). God’s exaltation of Christ allows Jesus to fulfill the role of king. So, Christ fulfills the role of prophet, priest and king. He walked this earth touching and experiencing humanity himself, as the people had never experienced God before. The transcendent God became immanent, or present among us—in the person of Jesus Christ.
But when Christ ascended once again to be with his Father in heaven, we were left with access to God, but no way to transfer—no connector. So, as Christ had promised to not leave us alone, he sent a connector in the Comfortor, the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-13). The Holy Spirit is the connector, as promised by Jesus, and before Jesus, by the prophet Jeremiah (31:31-34): “The days are coming, declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the old covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sin no more.’”
The connection is here. Jesus sent the connector—the printer—in the person of the Holy Spirit, who writes God’s law and love on our minds and hearts. Only we can turn on the printer, but we cannot activate it alone. We must ask for help from God by acknowledging our sin, repenting of our sin, and acknowledging our need for God’s help. Much of the time, God’s help comes to us through others—through God’s “printing network,” if you will. God’s printing network is made up of other people who are already connected and in whom his Spirit is already activated. The discipleship network is the same thing as a printing network in that it connects and adds new disciples to the source of transformative power that is God. Our purpose as the printing network of disciples is to share and strengthen the connection so that everyone’s printers are activated, empowered, and enabled to transfer God’s love to all people in all times and in all places. This is for God’s glory and the ushering in of Christ’s Kingdom at his glorious return.
Questions for Reflection:
- Have you ever thought about what it means to have God’s law and love ‘imprinted’ on your mind and heart? What do you think Jeremiah and John meant? Do you trust with your mind and heart that Jesus is the fulfillment/ completion of the Law and the Prophets?
- In what ways do you demonstrate or sometimes fail to demonstrate this trust in Christ? Be honest.
God, you are so amazing! We see your presence and your imprint in everything! You open our eyes to new ways of seeing you every day. Thank you for opening a way for us to have access to you through your Son. Thank you for connecting with us through your Holy Spirit. Let us strengthen and invite new networking possibilities as we work with your Spirit to help others activate your Spirit in them. Amen.
Explain or draw a diagram or picture of your own printing network and share it with either me or the group. Who is a part of activating the power of the Holy Spirit in you? Have you ever told these people, thanked them, or helped them to see their vital role in your faith life? With whom could you actively share the printing network or have you been sharing the network today?