The Two Agendas

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

In our business, we have suppliers in China. Anne was talking to one of them on the phone just now. As I listened I was thinking how, in many ways, China and the West are practically on a war footing these days, yet Anne and Catherine (Many Chinese people use western names as well as their own Chinese ones) were communicating as individuals. They were in relationship. I saw two agendas: Satan’s agenda of war and destruction, and above that God’s agenda of communication and relationship. Anne felt exactly the same thing, and commented that the enemy’s agenda is always about the destruction of life, from abortion to Ukraine; whereas God’s agenda is always to bring life and build relationships.

Last night I was making a hotel booking. It’s the sort of thing that I now normally do online, (often through a third-party agency) but I had a query so I phoned the hotel directly. They sorted out my query, so I asked if I could book the room while I was on the phone. She said that I could either book on the phone there and then, or book online. I chose to book over the phone, and had a pleasant conversation with the lady at the hotel.

What’s the connection between the hotel in England and the factory in China? Yes, it’s the phone call; but far more than that, it’s what the phone call represents. I chose to book my room over the phone because I wanted to affirm the importance of human contact over the impersonal Labyrinth of the Internet. Anne’s phone call was affirming a personal relationship between customer and supplier above the shadowy machinations of international politics.

Like a diminishing circle of light, the opportunities to make contact with another person in the commercial world – in fact anywhere in the world – are becoming rapidly smaller. Shopping is increasingly online. Customer services in so many cases are no longer a phone call away but hide behind Internet FAQs. ”What would you like to ask me?” says the bland AI voice pretending to be a human when you phone the bank. In fact it’s often impossible to even find a phone number on a website these days: corporations and public services no longer want to invest in people whose job is to talk to other people. Don’t talk to us, talk to our chatbot. In the domain of personal relationships, conversations between two people dangle on strings while one of them answers a text message or reads their social media feed, and at the darkest end of that thread vulnerable teenagers take their lives because their self-image doesn’t match the glittering portrait galleries of their Facebook ”friends.” The prince of the power of the air is smothering life with the fine mesh of his World Wide Web.

And so it comes as no surprise that cyber war and cyber crime are becoming lead players on the stage of the enemy’s plans for death and destruction as the great theatre of the nations moves towards the final act and the closing scene of the return of the King. The same agenda that seeks to destroy a child in the womb, erode the fertile multiplication of life through the nucleus of the traditional family, or smash the heritage of centuries with a single bomb that kills twenty people at the same time, is the one that is stifling personal communications in the family and society and closing down interpersonal transactions in the  world of commerce.

God has an agenda: it is love and life. Satan has an agenda: it is death and destruction. Jesus sums the two agendas up in John 10 :10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Although we are not of the world, we are still in it, and sometimes we have to use the systems that the world offers us. But where and when we can, let us do what Moses commanded the people of Israel: let us choose life.

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