Is Your Life a Light in the Darkness? — by Pastor Pam Sutherland

I recently had a discussion with someone about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it will affect our lives in the years to come. It is amazing to me what AI can do these days given that it wasn’t that many years ago we were using flip phones and dial-up internet service. It wasn’t too many years before that, that we couldn’t even imagine home computers or mobile phones. Those were the things of science fiction. When my youngest was in the 4 or 5th grade some 25 years ago, a representative of NASA spoke at her school. I remember him saying that the technology being developed at that time was 50 years ahead of the technology available to the public. Those things he was referring to haven’t even been released to the public yet!

Back then, I never would have dreamed I’d have an AI device in my kitchen that I could talk to, get information from, play games with, or tell me I was being rude when I got snippy with “her” for not responding to my request. (The device’s name is Alexa so I refer to it as her or she.) Some people are worried about AI and its ability to listen to our private conversations. Some believe AI is or will be used of the devil or the anti-Christ to control our lives. That’s quite possible considering the way most of us, and our children, are addicted to our screens!

For now though, our private kitchen conversations center around what we’re having for dinner and what to put on the grocery list so I’m not really worried about who might be listening, although sometimes Alexa will interject some recipe advice which can be helpful, or irritating, depending on my mood. Mostly though, I have her play contemporary Christian and/or gospel music, read the Bible to me, and when she is being especially uncooperative, I make her say 50 “Praise the Lord’s” as punishment. Take that AI spies!

Two of my devices use facial recognition to unlock the screen. I’ve noticed that when there is a bright light streaming in from the window beside me, my devices don’t recognize me. That dark screen does not comprehend my facial features in that bright light and continues to lock me out. It got me thinking about a verse in the Bible that says:

As believers we are called to be light in a dark world. As such, those who choose to live in darkness will not understand or comprehend our faith, our hope, or our perseverance and joy, even in the midst of our trials and tribulations. They may not recognize who we are in Christ Jesus – the light of Christ Jesus shining out in the darkness – and some may even lock us out of their lives. But don’t forget the words of Jesus:

The purpose of shining our light is not so we can be seen or recognized, but so that the light of Christ may be seen in us, to dispel the darkness in this world, and bring glory our Father in heaven.

I don’t claim to know what purpose Artificial Intelligence will serve in the future, whether good or evil, but I hope we will all use it whenever we can, to shine the light of Christ into a dark world

Grace and peace,

Pastor Pam

NOTE: Pastor Pam’s pastorates include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church in Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church in St. Paul, VA.

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