Minor adjustments

A little friction keeps us in step with Scripture

Feb 27, 2017 by

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Apple Inc.’s sleek new corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., is one of the world’s most ambitious construction projects. When completed, the 2.8 million-square-foot circular structure will house up to 14,200 workers and use the world’s largest single piece of curved glass. It is estimated to cost about $5 billion.

Reuters reports the company’s obsession with design and detail is apparent not just from afar but also up close — down to the finish of pipes that aren’t even visible.

The construction team reportedly fought the idea, but Apple held fast to founder Steve Jobs’ vision of perfectly flat doorways lacking thresholds.

“The rationale?” Reuters asked. “If engineers had to adjust their gait while entering the building, they risked distraction from their work, according to a former construction manager.”

Upon reflection, I’ve been oblivious to how much time and focus I waste adjusting my gait.

Or was that time wasted? Was it instead an investment in practicing neural dexterity through low-impact multitasking?

Looking beyond the fragile attention spans of Apple engineers, it is worth wondering how we have constructed our reading of the Bible. Are there points to slow down, re-evaluate and ponder new insights? Or is it a frictionless exercise of proving faith through rote reinforcement?

Scripture offers a richer, more nuanced experience when we wrestle with speed bumps.

When we read the Bible together, it shouldn’t be to remove thresholds. It should be to stop each other, listen to each other, challenge ourselves and perhaps even entertain doubts. Anabaptists from around the world did so Feb. 12 in Augsburg, Germany.

A “threshold” was originally a raised area designed to keep from losing a threshing floor’s harvested grain. The act of separating grain from chaff is a routine occurrence in Scripture, holding such meaning that Solomon built the Lord’s temple on a threshing floor (2 Chron. 3:1).

Those times we slow down — being open to gaining new understanding from a passage — are opportunities to deepen our faith. It would be a shame to remove thresholds, for “when you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress” (Num. 18:30). Too many Christians have blown away with the chaff because they were ridiculed or dismissed for raising hard questions or ideas.

As thresholds go, the ultimate is found at the dismount from those moving sidewalks at big airports. The transition from walking at superhuman speed to static terra firma offers a supreme moment when the world recalibrates with appreciation for solid rock on which to stand.

All other ground is sinking sand. Were it not for the gait adjustment, how could such a revelation be known?


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