Cloud services are internet-based services where big tech companies like Microsoft, Apple or Google provide customers with storage space and processing resources on their computers so that their customers do not have to store large amounts of data and programs on their own computers.
Cloud services constantly back up your data so you don’t lose information if your system goes down. If you have to be out of the office you can access your information anywhere in the world through cloud services as long as you have access to the internet. And cloud services offer customers access to advanced computer programs that the average person or company cannot afford.
The Pentagon projects that they will spend $10 billion on their cloud computing services. Once their system is in place, troops in Afghanistan will be able to access the same data and programs as analysts at the Pentagon. For average computer users like me, cloud computing is a handy way to store photographs. And the programs I record through my cable TV service are stored, not in my cable box, but in the cable company’s cloud.
As with anything tech-related, there are the concerns about security, control and reliability. What if someone hacks into your account and steals your information? What does your cloud services provider do with your data besides store it? What happens if their systems go down?
The eleventh and twelfth chapters of the Bible’s book of Hebrews talk about Christian cloud services:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)
Christians are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses also known as the saints. Like the tech cloud, the cloud of witnesses is available to us wherever we go. And since the Christian cloud is controlled by God, it is 100 percent secure; there will be no interruptions in service.
The Christian cloud helps us to lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely. Sin and other baggage weighed heavily on the saints who are in the Christian cloud but still they were loved and supported by our gracious heavenly Father. The key to laying aside sin is in knowing that we have a gracious heavenly Father who will always be there for us, not fearing an overbearing, spiteful God who takes delight in our failures.
Christian cloud services also remind us that there is a plan for our lives. Although it may seem like our lives are a random series of events that have no purpose, there is a race that is set before us. And everything that happens in our lives is another step in the race that God has planned for us.
Christian cloud services keep us focused on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. In order to set up an account in the tech cloud you need to establish a password. Jesus is the password to the Christian cloud. He endured death on the cross to pay for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of throne of God. Unlike tech passwords that we are never to share with anyone, we are encouraged to share the password to Christian cloud services with everyone.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells about some of the prominent members of the Christian cloud like Noah, Abraham and Moses. Then Hebrews concludes:
“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:32-38, ESV)
Some members of the Christian cloud did great and powerful things. Others survived great hardships and disasters. But they shared a common faith, faith in the Savior who would someday come and restore all things. From the moment Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother, Mary, to the day he burst forth from his grave, Jesus brought reconciliation and restoration to this fallen world. Faith in Jesus sustained every member of the Christian cloud so that the cares of this messy world did not weigh them down.
If you were to visit the tech company that is storing your data in their cloud and ask them to show you exactly where your data was stored they would probably show you a large, windowless building humming with massive computers and say, “It’s in there somewhere.” For now, we can’t see any of the witnesses that are in the Christian cloud. But someday, when Christ returns, the Christian cloud will be dissolved and we will see clearly all the saints who have been there all along encouraging us in our faith.