By Sam Collins
As you navigate our increasingly techy world, perhaps you’ve come across the term vaporware. It’s a designation that refers to an electronic product that has been promoted, hyped, and ballyhooed with the fervor of an evangelistic tent meeting, but which isn’t available and actually may never be.
Outlandish claims are made; inflated assurances are given. Promotional purveyors may insist that their stellar, pocket-sized innovation will enable you to text, place phone calls, surf the net, provide prenatal sonograms, perform touchup cosmetic surgery, defibrillate a malfunctioning heart, and microwave a pizza with a single touch and click. But, in reality, it’s a creation that is as likely to materialize as a chicken that’s been crossbred to lay fully-cooked eggs and bacon—with a side of hash browns.
Even if the word is new or unfamiliar to you, the essence of the phenomenon likely is not. Anyone who’s been around for more than the duration of a photo-flash is familiar with overwrought, overblown promises. Most political speeches, for example, are so chock-full of pledges that will never be fulfilled that they are little more than gigantic vaporware landfills.
Though the church is supposed to be busy calling the culture to turn back from its disingenuous, self-aggrandizing, self-destructive ways, we too often take our cues from some of the most dubious impulses of business and politics. Perhaps that’s why Jesus warned his followers, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:23–24 NIV).
The Lord knew that even the good news of the gospel is susceptible to overhyping and questionable promotional practices. The kingdom of God he was announcing was sufficient on its own merits. It did not need the kind of cranked up volume and overinflated expectations he warned against.
What Jesus came to proclaim is as powerful when spoken in a barely audible whisper as when bellowed in a manner that threatens to generate a wildebeest stampede. What it can and will deliver is ultimately more life-changing and affirming than distortions that smack more of the promo of the huckster than the power of the Holy Spirit.
We ministers, Christian leaders, and laypersons aren’t called to crank up our adrenaline flow and try to sell the spiritual equivalent of vaporware, which, more often than not, underdelivers and consequently undermines the credibility of Christ’s message. We are here to speak the clear, unpretentious, ultra-powerful truth and let God’s Spirit do the work of blowing the doors off their hinges and delivering on God’s plenty-good-enough promises.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Church of God Ministries or, at points, even the writer, but are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek to hopefully provoke a leavening bit of laughter and a smidgen of thought.