The Parable of the Fax machine

Here’s a trivia question for you. Which device do you think is older? In
other words, which one was invented first? Was it (a) the telephone (b) the
radio or (c) the fax machine. If you’re like most people, you probably
struggled between (a) and (b). The telephone had its’ beginnings as far
back as 1870 while the first radio was invented in the 1890’s. But neither
of these inventions is as old as the fax machine, That’s right, the correct
answer is (c) the fax machine! As hard as it may be to believe, messages
were being faxed from one place to another more than thirty years before
the telephone was invented and as much as fifty years before the first
radio transmission! Patents for the first fax machine date back to 1843.
The fax machine was invented by an Italian priest. Emperor Napoleon III was
so impressed with this contraption that he established fax service between
Paris and Lyons. It worked so well that the French made it available to the
public and it was used extensively by the press and stock brokers. But the
invention was virtually ignored and rejected by the general population.
They just didn’t see the need for it. By 1870, France went to war and the
momentum of the fax machine was almost permanently interrupted and for over
a hundred years the fax machine was forgotten. There were a few attempts to
revive the technology during this time but it didn’t take off until 1980
when some companies began exploring ways to instantly send documents from
one place to another. The technology that lay dormant for a century was
revived, renewed and adapted for the times. You see, the fax machine never
caught on until people needed it. But when people finally found a use for
it, they were willing to give it a try. You see, until technology meets a
need in peoples’ lives, it is useless.

The gospel of Jesus Christ has much in common with the fax machine in our
story. Martin Luther once said, “the recognition of sin is the beginning of
salvation”. Until a person realizes that they are a sinner in need of
salvation, they see no need to seek God’s forgiveness. Unless a person
understands that their sin has separated them from God, they will not see
the importance of the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s
why Jesus commanded us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to
all creation.” (Mark 16:17 NIV). Not only do we need to preach, teach and
share how to be saved, but also why salvation is so important. Are we doing
all we can to show the world that they need the gospel?