A Solution Looking For a Problem

In 1917 Einstein suggested in a research paper that it should be possible for a ‘stimulated beam of light’ to be produced under the right conditions and after much research, in 1960 Theodore Maiman invented the ruby laser, considered to be the first successful optical or light laser in the world; but there is some debate on the matter.

Two years previously, in 1958 Gordon Gould, then a doctoral student at Columbia University was the first person to use the word “LASER”  (said with the Dr. Evil/Mike Myers voice) and he claims to this day that he was inspired to build a laser but didn’t file a patent.  After Maiman’s research was released Gould’s patent was rejected and it wasn’t until 1977 that courts in the US reversed the decision giving Gould credit for the discovery.  Let me guess his dog used to eat his homework too.  For more on the history of this colossal blunder click  here.


At the time the laser was considered “A Solution Looking for a Problem”.  Lasers were cool, and scientists were sure they were going to be useful for something, they just weren’t sure what for.  Today in the 21st century, lasers are used for a host of different tasks (optical storage devices, laser pointers, etc.   I am willing to bet that you won’t be any further that 20 feet away from a device that uses a laser at any point today.

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Emerging churches are faith communities who are exploring new contexts in which to be a part of the Kingdom of God; the leading edge of the reign of Christ as it emerges out of the future into the present day.  In talking with people who are participating in Emerging churches I am intrigued by the way in which they discern the ministry that  the Spirit has in store for them.  Emerging churches seem to have a comfortable way of dwelling in the present and seeing where the Spirit will guide them to serve.  There is a tolerance for disorder and even dysfunction that is hard for me to watch sometimes.

Existing legacy churches, even progressive ones that would be considered ‘missional’ by some are often guilty of searching out needs in their community and then rallying the resources necessary to ‘fix the problem’.  I am oversimplifying to be sure, but a legacy church tends to bring a solution to a perceived problem in their neighbourhood.

Can I be a part of Christ’s enduring presence within the poor without trying to ‘solve the problem’?  Can I serve, and even witness, to those who are differently-broken like me without setting up a colony of my faith community to try and fix them?  Legacy churches are sometimes guity of inviting Christ to join them in the ministry they are planning on performing. Other churches  are looking for what Christ is already doing and wanting to join in.  The later approach is better than the former but I am thinking it still doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Does Christ place Himself wherever His bride, the church is? or is His true love, the followers of the way, found living among those whom Christ inhabits; the poor and the marginalized.  I am not a Solution looking for a problem.

What am I then?

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