Last week, I made reference to an old saying “Garbage in, Garbage out”. I didn’t realize it was an actual “universal computer science concept” with it’s own acronym, GIGO. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Well whoopee do! Uh, why is that important and how is that relevant to our discussion of Luke 6:43-45 from last week? As exciting as a universal computer science concept sounds, I think I have some laundry to do.” Well, don’t check out just yet. Let me unpack it a little first.
GIGO is a “universal computer science concept, but it only applies to programs that process invalid data. Good programming practice dictates that functions should check for valid input before processing it. A well-written program will avoid producing garbage by not accepting it in the first place. Requiring valid input also helps programs avoid errors that can cause crashes and other erratic behavior”. (techterms.com)
Maybe it’s just me…“Uh, Yes Robby it’s just you”… but there is a direct connection between this computer science concept thingy and Luke 6:43-45. Here is the passage from Luke again.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit, each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:43-45 NIV
Basically, our brains are like a sponge. We absorb, take in, and store a lot of information like a computer, consciously and unconsciously. Our original programming or how God created us was “well written” and designed to avoid producing garbage. As we saw a few weeks ago, God has given us “everything we need to live a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3). God wanted us to be “good trees” bearing “good fruit”, so He gave us “valid input” to help us avoid errors, crashes, erratic behavior, or sin. We were created to function by God’s design. The problem is that are not machines, we’re not computers. “Well, duh we know that.”
Ok, we know a little about “AI” or artificial intelligence from movies, media, and even products in our homes or automobiles. We own machines that are “smarter” than ever. Science fiction loves to imagine the idea that someday we will be able to create machines that are autonomous having the freedom to govern themselves or control their own affairs, just like human beings. Some scientists probably think that it’s just around the corner, but I’m still waiting for flying Deloreans and power laces from Back To The Future. According to Steven Spielberg’s vision of the future that was supposed to happen in 2015.
Maybe some day, but for now machines and computers can only do what we tell them to do, what we “program” them to do. They are “artificial”. They are insincere or incapable of expressing genuine feelings. They are “affected” by outward stimulus. To get “output”, there has to be “input”.
When the Lord created us, we weren’t “exact” replicas or copies. We may be created in the image of God, but we don’t have the same powers. We are not omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all places at all times), or omnipotent (all powerful). We can’t create something from nothing. However, we are pretty powerful reproductions. We are more than just artificially intelligent beings. We were created with total autonomy and free will, the freedom to do whatever we want, to make our own decision. Unfortunately that got us into a lot of trouble. I don’t know how many science fiction movies you’ve watched, but whenever machines start making their own choices really apocalyptic stuff starts happening. Have you ever seen the Terminator movies? Well, our species has done a lot of terminating and apocalyptic stuff too. Free will is a double-edged sword. It can be good, even wonderful, but as we know it can be really bad.
Instead of going to God for input, the original DNA source code, the “truth of God”, we exchange His well-written programming for a lie or garbage. Paul lays this out in Romans 1.
“21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:21-25 NIV
Ok, let’s dive into this a little bit. Paul says, “They knew God”. How did they “know” God? God created them to know Him. They were born with it. It was programmed into their DNA, so it was “in there”. Of course we know that “they” is also “we”. We are all created “knowing God”. But according to Paul, we would rather “exchange the truth or knowledge of God for a lie”. Adam and Eve fell for the lie, as do we. So, why does God let us do that? Why doesn’t he just reprogram us? If our brains or hard drives have been corrupted, why doesn’t He do a complete reboot or reset? Well, He did it once before. Remember the flood? Things had gotten so bad that God hit the reset button. Unfortunately things haven’t changed much, and God’s next and final reboot has been scheduled. Read 2 Peter 3:1-13.
Let’s get back to Romans 1. In verse 24 Paul says that He/God “gave them over” to their sinful desires. Basically, if that’s the way you want it, you got it. In the context of when this was written, human beings would rather worship “images”, statues, or idols that looked like human beings and animals than God. Paul says that they worshipped and served “created” things rather than, in place of, or as a substitute for the creator, God. Our idols may have changed today, but we are still practicing the same art of substitution. We would rather worship the lesser than the greater. This is why the Apostle Paul encourages us a little later in Romans 12 to change our input source.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV
Our hard drives have been corrupted. Going back to Luke 6, we have “stored up” or filled our hearts with bad information, invalid input that is producing garbage. We “conform” to the world, instead of being transformed by the renewing of our minds with the truth of God, but there is hope. We can turn it around. If we offer ourselves, confess, and repent, we can be saved or reconciled to God. We can turn our frown upside down. Sorry, that was cheesy, but you get the idea.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:43-45 NIV
What are our hearts full of?
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.