Soft Stuff

I was in the store the other day with a friend who needed to buy some more laundry soap. So, we walk over and look around to pick out just the "right kind" of soap. Of Course. Because there was a whole bunch of different kinds of soap there, each touting it's special features that will get your clothes "whiter than white" or "brighter than bright" or smelling like a forest, or not smelling at all, as you prefer.

Of course, there probably isn't much difference (other than fragrance and some extra bleach) between the various brands and variations between brands. So what's the deal? I suppose, maybe, perhaps, there is some valid reason for all those variations. But (honestly) I think it's just a trick to get more shelf space. If you are a soap maker and you only have one variety of your brand, you don't get as many packages on the shelf and maybe don't sell as much. Maybe. In any case, soap making is a good business to be in because:

1 - people have to wash stuff

2 - soap gets used up and people have to buy more

But I'm only guessing here, because I'm not in the soap business. I am in the software business, and it is nothing like selling soap. Unlike soap, we software geeks make a product that

1 - never wears out

2 - becomes obsolete

At first glance, that's an insane business to be in. We have to find some way to get you to buying something over and over even though what you have probably still works. Software has no moving parts to wear out, doesn't get consumed while you use it, and will still run the same centuries from now. Except for one thing...

Computers keep getting faster and bigger and that allows software to get bigger and faster too. Thank goodness Microsoft keeps changing the operating system so that we have an excuse to sell you a new version of our software, too. See how it works? What we sell as "upgrades" are just features that look a little different or are maybe easier to use or take advantage of the new hardware. Fact is, if we didn't get you to buy what you already have, we would go out of business. About the only thing even close to software is music and books. But in the case of music and books, you usually get tired of them and go buy more. I don't think anyone goes out and buys a new word processor just because they are tired of using the one they already own. Get it?

What makes this possible is that software is "virtual." There are no windows, no folders, no documents inside your computer. (Open up the computer and look sometime if you don't believe it.) So we can constantly add "features" to software because it is, after all, just a virtual model encoded in processing instructions.

And that's the other thing that makes software different from soap. There's only so much you can do with soap, and soap has probably been about the same for millennia. But with software you can invent totally new worlds if you want. There is no end to it, because it is not a physical thing. In fact, if we could figure out how to run the software without the computer it would be perfect...

Soap and software. Kinda like physical and spiritual. (HAH HAH)

Physical stuff gets used up. These old bodies we have wear down and wear out and the day comes when we have to cast it off and go on. It's the spiritual stuff that never wears out, has no limits to what it can reach, etc.

And that's a good analogy to faith. Faith is not something you just buy once and it's a done deal. We go from "faith to faith" as Romans 1 points out. There is no limit really to how far faith can go, because it is not a physical thing. It is a spiritual thing, and it is the faith you develop that will carry over into eternity.

So don't worry too much about the physical stuff. It's like soap. You use it and it gets consumed. But the spiritual things are like software. There is no end to how much faith you can get, or how much knowledge of God you can gain.


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