Misspelled words and missing punctuation marks seem harmless, but in some cases those boo-boos have created great loss and damage. Take these dubious moments in history.
NASA’S MISSING HYPHEN
The damage: $80 million - Hyphens don’t usually score high on the list of most important punctuation. But a single dash led to absolute failure for NASA in 1962 in the case of Mariner 1, America’s first interplanetary probe. The mission was simple: get up close and personal with close neighbor Venus. But a single missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed caused the craft to explode just minutes after takeoff. 2001: A Space Odyssey novelist Arthur C. Clarke called it “the most expensive hyphen in history.”
THE BIBLE PROMOTES PROMISCUITY
The damage: $4590 (and eternal damnation) - In 1631, London’s Baker Book House rewrote the 10 Commandments when a missing word in the seventh directive declared, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Parliament was not singing hallelujah; they declared that all erroneous copies of the Good Book—which came to be known as “The Wicked Bible”—be destroyed and fined the London publisher 3000 pounds.
I have seen many misspellings of our church denomination. We are not 'Untied Methodists' or 'Untried Methodists' or 'United Mathodists'. In fact, just misspelling the name in this blog is driving my spell-check crazy. I was gifted a coffee mug a while back and never really looked closely at it. Recently, I pulled the mug out to use it and saw this.
Imagine the person whose job it was to proofread text going on these mugs. I can just hear the HR person telling the potential employee, "Your main task will be to slowly read and proof all incoming text for mug production. Upon checking all incoming material, you'll then send it back to the customer for final review before sending to the production line. Do you understand?" The potential employee, nodding their head, will respond, "Yes ma'am, I understand completely." (This mug was manufactured in southeast Asia. There may have been a gap in understanding between their language and english.)
God set forth two jobs for humanity. They are lifted from the Old Testament and shared by Jesus in the Gospels. Take a look.
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads." (Deuteronomy 6:4-8, NIV)
“ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:18, NIV) [Also found in three Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke]
Imagine Old Testament disciples sitting in their synagogues nodding their heads and acknowledging the rabbi's instruction.
The rabbi: "To fulfill your main task on earth, Love God and love people."
The disciples: "That sounds reasonable, we will do what you say rabbi."
The rabbi: "Remember, you have two jobs and they are similar."
The disciples: "No problem, we'll get right to work."
Every week in churches all around the world, pastors encourage their people to love the Lord God with every fiber of their being and to do likewise with people. The world is in need of the church to live into the two commands listed in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. The church needs to step forward boldly and exercise God's mandate to love. We have two jobs to do. Actually, we have one job to do if we assume the word love works in both instances. Can we do it? Yes, we can! Can we love God? Yes, we can! Can we love other people? Yes, we can! Will we do it? Wait, what was the question? Focus friends. Let's do our job with excellence. Let's begin to show the love of God to the world. It's needed. It's our job.