Eugene J. Polley died of pneumonia a couple of Sundays ago at the age of 96. He was an engineer for Zenith Electronics and is best known as the inventor of the first wireless remote. His ray gun-shaped Flash-Matic remote touched off a revolution that affected millions of lives, including my own. But I must admit, last Monday I found myself thinking it was a shame that his invention didn’t die with him.
The owner’s manual on our new speaker system promised “EZ Setup.” I should have known better. Actually the setup wasn’t that difficult. Once I familiarized myself with the nomenclature, pairing the speakers with my wife’s mobile phone (via Bluetooth technology) went smoothly. But getting all of the television/dvr/dvd/speaker remotes to play together nicely was an entirely different matter. Let’s just say the whole experience brought out my “inner child,” but I’ve matured enough to realize that hammers don’t work well on electronics. I expressed my frustration. Loudly. Given all my antics, at one point Dana threatened to put me in time-out.
I’m pleased to say that the “honey-do” item was completed, and Dana can now stream her iTunes to the speakers in the family room. Although the sound bar only “simulates” surround sound, music has once again returned to the Robinson home. I must say it sounds great.
The whole experience reminds me of a conversation that had taken place the day before around our dining room table. Last Sunday, we invited several people over for lunch. During the meal, I was struck by the diversity of our backgrounds, even within our own restoration movement. But even more amazing was the maturity being expressed.
One commented that there was a time in his life when he would not have set foot in the Southeastern building. But things were different now, and rather than striking discordant notes, he was learning what it means to live in harmony. He said he had grown more over the past several months than at any similar period of time.
I am reminded that relationships aren’t plug-and-play, even within the church. Living in harmony requires distinguishing one’s personal preferences from the core of the gospel so we can keep the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3). As difficult and frustrating as the process might be at times, the end result is worth the effort—enabling us to stream the music of the gospel to the world.
Only the music isn’t “virtual” or simulated. It’s the real deal. It’s unity as opposed to uniformity—the full, rich, and robust surround sound that God intends to catch the ear of those desperately wanting a good tune (Ephesians 3:10).
Perhaps remotes aren’t such a bad thing. Perhaps they can be programed to play nicely together.
“May our God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we'll be a choir--not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!” (Romans 15:5-6, The Message)