December 17, 1996
IBM has developed an astonishing wallet-sized, computerized card called “Personal Area Network” or PAN. PAN emits tiny electrical currents, about one-billionth of an amp, using the human body as a conductor. Using touch, this device can transmit small amounts of information to receivers such as watches, smart phones, pagers and hand-held computers. One prototype sent data from a PAN card in one person’s pocket to another person’s PAN card while they shook hands with each other.
PAN sounds great but I have some reservations. For one thing, what is wrong with the methods of data transfer we already have? With PAN, how can we control who gets our address list or sales figures? Will secrets be traded simply by bumping into a competitor’s sales agent?
Besides, are we that desperate? Don’t we have enough inventions that supposedly enhance communication? Maybe we should simply talk to each other more often. Telephones, computers, pagers and other technology are helpful but making ourselves understood to friends and family members still takes human effort, not more electronic devices.
Thankfully, communication is easier with God. He does not need a PAN to know what is going on in our hearts — He reads minds. For example, in Mark 2, Jesus watched a paralyzed lowered through the ceiling by his friends who wanted Jesus to heal him. To everyone’s surprise, Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees began thinking, “Who can forgive sins but God alone!” Imagine their shock when Jesus questioned their grumbling. John says that, “Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts.”
Once, Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast doing miracles. John writes that “many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” We do not have to open our mouths for Jesus knows all about us before we say anything. He knows whether we trust Him or not.
This has several implications. For one thing, I do not have to worry about explaining myself to God. He knows all about how I think and what I think. Actually, He understands me better than I understand myself. If I am having difficulty with who I am and what I do, He is the best person to explain me to me.
Second, I do not have to explain others to God. He already knows how they think and what they think about. He understands them better than they understand themselves too. When I have difficulty with others, God is the right person to help us understand each other.
Third, God is also able to explain Himself to me. He can put His thoughts into my mind. 1 Corinthians 2 explains that “we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” It goes on to say the things that come from the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned and spiritual people can understand them. While we cannot “know the mind of the Lord that we may instruct him” we do “have the mind of Christ” that we may understand Him—making God’s way of communicating far better than a computerized card.
One consolation about PAN; when it shows up in Walmart, we can be thankful it reads only what is entered into the card and can not read our minds. It is already difficult enough to keep our Christmas list secret without our families finding out simply by giving us a hug or a body check!