As disciples of Christ we need to continually behold Christ so that we can worship Him and love others. The pursuit of seeing Christ through meditation on His Word should consume our lives more than anything else (i.e. eating food, sleeping or compulsively checking our smartphones for new notifications). However, in this fallen world the gift of technology can turn into a deadly distraction that keeps us from loving God with all of our hearts and minds and strength.
Hebrews 12:14 says “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
But my guess is that you already know all of this—that we need to be pure in heart and that we should strive for holiness. You know that seeing God is our greatest need and our greatest joy. But, have we contemplated how the technology that we live with in 2018 is threatening our purity and our holiness and our ability to see God?
Tony Reinke writes in the book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You about how not just our phones but all technology can be an useful tool or a dangerous distraction. He develops a theology of technology showing how God’s design has always included technology. From farming implements to smartphones, humans made in the image of God have always used technology.
However, our use of technology is not neutral. It can be a means for humans to carry out the mission of God (e.g. the printing press making God’s Word accessible to billions of people, airplanes allowing missionaries to travel with the gospel to remote places, etc.) But, technology can also be a means for humans to rebel against God in devastating ways.
Perhaps the technology that is most dangerous is not that which would wipe humanity off the face of the earth, but rather what we each hold in our own hands for hours each day. Reinke summarizes twelve ways that we are changed by the technology of a smartphone in this way:
“Our phones amplify our addiction to distractions (chapter 1) and thereby splinter our perception of our place in time (ch. 12). Our phones push us to evade the limits of embodiment (ch. 2) and thereby cause us to treat one another harshly (ch. 11). Our phones feed our craving for immediate approval (ch. 3) and promise to hedge against our fear of missing out (ch. 10). Our phones undermine key literary skills (ch. 4) and, because of our lack of discipline, make it increasingly difficult for us to identify ultimate meaning (ch. 9). Our phones offer us a buffet of produced media (ch. 5) and tempt us to indulge in visual vices (ch. 8). Our phones overtake and distort our identity (ch. 6) and tempt us toward unhealthy isolation and loneliness (ch. 7).” 1
I encourage each of you to consider reading this book and evaluating the ways that technology is affecting you and those you love and shepherd. Reinke challenges us to ask these three questions:
You and I can use technology for good, but we can also be lured into continual distraction and ineffectiveness in our relationship with God and with others. I am challenged to evaluate how I go to my phone when I first wake up to see what emails or messages might have come in. I am tempted to never just sit still and pray or think about Scripture because I am simply too busy keeping up with everything my phone offers. And let’s not even get started on Netflix and Amazon.
We need to evaluate whether the Lordship of Christ is leading us in our daily tasks or if we are continually blocking him out with distractions. May Christ strengthen us to submit all of ourselves to Him so that we might see Him clearly and love Him dearly!
Not only is our use of technology an issue of personal responsibility in our own lives, but it is also a very important family shepherding issue. Kevin Voss, a growth group shepherd here at FBC and a deacon involved in the church’s technology, has written a very helpful document entitled “Parenting and Technology.” This document is available here.
Kevin helps us to see the plethora of threats to your holiness and the holiness and minds of your children and family. He lists the specific ways that social networking, blogging, social meeting sites, texting apps, shopping sites and many other things can be a danger to you and your family. Of course access to pornography through these mediums is a huge problem, but many other problems can also come through these avenues. As parents, we must be aware of these dangers to our children. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns us of the danger of assuming that we stand lest we fall, and the same is true of those we are shepherding.
Kevin suggests creating a family culture that encourages accountability with our technology usage. He suggests the following among other things:
He has many other helpful suggestions in the document. He also gives a lot of ideas about how to practically protect through different kinds of solutions that can offer some level of protection (hardware and software solutions).
You and I are stewards of our lives, our minds, our actions and our hearts. We will give an account to God for how we used our lives. He desires that we love Him with all of our heart and soul and mind! Will you evaluate how you are using technology to pursue holiness and how technology might be a snare that is harming your holiness? Nothing is more satisfying and wonderful than beholding Christ! Don’t anesthetize your soul – there is joy in Christ!
1 Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (Kindle Locations 3328-3335). Crossway. Kindle Edition.