|Ah...the old Encyclopedia Britannica. With a random bust of Napoleon, naturally.|
Once upon a time, there were Encyclopedias. People sold them in malls and door to door. Parents would lay out hundreds of hard-earned dollars so that their kids could have access to knowledge on virtually every subject. The books would arrive in a big wooden shipping crate, space would be cleared on the family bookshelves for all twenty hardback volumes, and the next time little Billy Bob needed to know where Dwight Eisenhower was born, or who fought in the Crimean War, or what year the Titanic sank, he could find out without leaving his house. But it was expensive, took up an enormous amount of space, and was immediately obsolete; between the time you ordered the books and they arrived, stuff happened that wasn’t covered in them. Then, at the turn of the 21st century, a couple of internet entrepreneurs had a crazy idea to create a free online encyclopedia with articles written not by experts but by regular people. Anyone who wanted to write an article could do it; after all, everyone is an expert on something. That way, it would be available to anyone with a computer and an internet signal, and it would be constantly up to date. In January 2001, Wikipedia was launched. Wiki is the Hawaiian word that means “quick.” A wiki is a webpage that doesn’t have an author; instead, people who read it are the authors. Critics said it would never work. “You can’t have ordinary people writing articles on an encyclopedia; you’ll just spread the ignorance.” They underestimated the intelligence of the common person. Just try editing a Wikipedia page in an incorrect way. If you went on the page for the Houston Texans right now and wrote, “The Texans are the best team in the NFL,” within minutes, someone would see that and challenge it. On the other hand, if you wrote, “since their founding, the Texans have won 88 games and lost 120,” and you cited a source like profootballreference.com, it would stand. Today, 495 million people from all over the world visit Wikipedia every month. It contains so much information, if you tried to put it in print form, it would take over 15,000 volumes. It has democratized knowledge in a profound way. For most of my life, and for the years before, you learned things by asking experts and hoping to find the right books. Now, all you have to do is look it up on your smartphone. In fact, I’ll bet someone right now is checking their phone to see if I was right about the Texans’ all-time record.
We’re in a series called “What the World Needs Now.” The Bible says what the world needs is to be reconciled with the God who made us, that reconciliation can only happen through Jesus Christ His Son, and they will only meet Jesus when His people, the Church, start being what we’re called to be. We’ve talked about the need for a radical revival in churches today, how we need to put Him fully in charge of our lives and our congregations. We talked last week about how, if we want to transform our community, each of us is must be willing to do more. But what are we each supposed to do, specifically? That’s what this Sunday's message is about.