I make apps for a living, so I have a stack of mobile devices on my desk at any given moment. But three of them (my phone, laptop, and tablet) aren’t for testing – they’re my digital tethers, my connection to world. So I have to keep them powered up. After all, I can’t very well survive a bus ride without streaming music from my phone to my noise-canceling headphones while banging out an email or two on the tablet, can I? No really – can I?
Batteries are as subject to the second law of thermodynamics as the rest of the universe – their electrons are gradually going from a state of ordered usefulness to chaotic irrelevance; that is to say they die and have to be recharged.
One important thing I learned awhile back, though: you can totally break a battery if you don’t completely drain it now and again. Turns out modern lithium-ion batteries can develop a memory – if you don’t run them dry or “condition” the battery, it will “remember” and not fully charge anymore, resulting in a decreased capacity. And the worst thing you can do is leave it plugged in all the time. Electrons need to move!
Leaving aside the creepy notion of a battery having sentient thought enough to remember something, it bears a resemblance to following Jesus (go with me on this – I’m almost to the point…maybe). In doing the things Jesus called us to do and becoming the people He made us to be, we expend spiritual energy. That energy needs to be replenished. We are charged up by spending time together in community, by learning from Scripture, by worshipping, fasting, and praying.
But if we never use that stored power – if we stay plugged into the wall, as it were – we begin to lose some of our capacity. Our batteries become broken, in need of re-conditioning. It can lead to shallow energy reserves – an inability to operate for very long outside of our church community (kind of like my old iPod that works for about 20 minutes before you have to plug it in again). Instead of being “salt and light”, mixed into the broader culture, we become isolated, un-salty, and dim. We retreat into our church buildings, create some more programs, and tell the world they’ll have to come to us if they want to know about Jesus.
At The Table, our Sunday night gatherings are about recharging – spending time in deep communion with Jesus and each other, learning, discussing, asking questions, wrestling with ideas, praying, and receiving. But The Table community is all about using up that power as we live, work, play, and connect with the world around us. Our gatherings are where we challenge each other to give our lives away, and where we gain the strength to do it.
If you can’t make it to the north end of Seattle on a Sunday night, try to find a group of Jesus’ disciples that you can make that sort of connection with – in person, face to face, heart to heart. Don’t settle for a shallow charging capacity – burn down your batteries by loving, serving, and bringing hope to your part of the planet, then refill and do it all again.
If you’re close by, come join us as we try to figure out how to do just that…