It’s a morning like any other. The alarm clock buzzes, and you stretch and let out a yawn as you prepare to face another day. But before your feet hit the floor, you reach over to pick up your cell phone or grab your tablet. The morning coffee has not been brewed, and the Wheaties have yet to be poured. However, within a few minutes of being awake, you are already tangled in technology’s web. E-mails have been checked, missed text messages have been read, new tweets have been scanned, recent “likes” have been counted, and new comments on posted pictures have been examined. It is an ordinary start to an ordinary day in today’s technology-propelled world.
There is no question that some absolutely amazing advances in technology have been made in recent years, advances that have improved our lives personally and professionally. We can video chat with family and friends both near and far with the touch of a button. We can connect to remote desktops, work from mobile workstations, go to virtual meetings, share files in the mystifying cloud, and webcast to thousands of people simultaneously. Technology has come a long way since those prehistoric relics known as Atari and the Commodore 64.
One of the most popular uses for technology in today’s culture is social media. Technology has made it possible for billions of users around the globe to log in and share life experiences across a wide range of social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs, just to name a few.
Adding more layers to the technological craze experienced in our culture is the plethora of apps that we zealously and cultishly download and use, apps that can give us up-to-the minute weather and that provide access to street maps and show traffic conditions. Then there are the millions of mindless games we can play, the endless television shows and movies we can stream, and of course the millions of songs available to be freely and frequently listened to. There are cooking apps, fitness apps, banking apps, sports apps, language apps, and shopping apps, and these only scratch the surface of the webcentric world in which we live. But as convenient as it is for us to shop from home in our pajamas, tablet in hand, talking on a Bluetooth device, and listening to Pandora, could all this technology actually be killing us spirituality?
But what about all the ways that technology has been a spiritual blessing throughout Christian history?
What about the invention of the printing press that opened doors for unprecedented Bible distribution, or the development of the television that opened doors for broadcasting the gospel to millions at one time—and all the technology in between?
Not to mention that technology has made it possible for Christians to listen to infinite religious podcasts on the go and watch church services remotely, almost anywhere on the globe. Christians can carry multiple Bibles on a single electronic device and access commentaries and study notes online, all of which can be enjoyed 24/7. And we cannot overlook the fact that the church has the unique ability to reach beyond its four walls as never before because of the many technological advances we enjoy in the world today.
Nevertheless, even as beneficial as technology has been in the Christian community, there are still evils associated with it. Modern technology has made it easier to waste more time, consume more visual refuse, and gain more useless information. We are slowly replacing face-to-face human interaction with virtual connections. We are becoming more preoccupied with finding the perfect photo of a life moment rather than living life to the fullest.
Now, don’t expect the next few paragraphs to be a soapbox tirade about how technology is from the Devil. To put it simply, it is not. Technology is morally neutral, just as money is. There is nothing inherently wrong with technology.
Technology is neither fundamentally good nor essentially evil.
With money, it is the love of it that can cause us to run into big problems, the Bible says. The problem is not with money itself (see 1 Timothy 6:10). The same is true of technology, which means that technology is merely a tool. So the main concern is our attitude about this tool and our approach to how we use it.
As you might expect, the Bible does not speak directly on the subject of technology, social media, or the Internet. But even though it may be silent on the specific subject, it still has important truths that are applicable to how we handle technology. As with any issue that the Bible doesn’t specifically address head-on, there are always what we might call all-purpose principles that can be applied to a variety of subjects that practically help Christians in navigating safely through real-life situations.
A good place to go is 1 Corinthians 10, verse 23, where the apostle Paul declares, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (nkjv). At no time does Paul deny the freedoms he was allowed to enjoy or his privileges in Christ. But he was able to admit that not everything is beneficial to his spiritual walk. He realized that some things, even though he may have been free to enjoy that activity, could become harmful if he wasn’t careful. Sometimes a freedom can bring you down instead of building you up spiritually. Freedom must always be balanced by responsibility.
So then, how can we enjoy the benefits of what technology has to offer while avoiding the temptations and traps that come with the cyber society that mankind has created?
Let’s keep it simple! Simplicity helps to keep truth memorable, and if truth is memorable, then it has a better chance of making its way into our everyday lives.
First, pray about it. Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort. Pray and seriously ask God to show you any areas you need to work on when it comes to your life as a Christian and your use of technology. As Psalm 139, verses 23 and 24, teach us, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (nkjv).
Next, keep an eye on your time. Technology can be fun and enjoyable, but anything in excess can become a problem. If you find that your use of technology or social media is taking up most of your free time, then you may need to cool it when it comes to how much you tweet, post, or snap. How you spend your time is an indication of what you love, and we are not to love anyone or anything more than God. The Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15, nkjv). The point is simple: if we are spending more time thinking about the next tweet, looking at updates, taking selfies, and obsessing over gadgets more than we’re thinking about God, then we need to make some changes.
Next, redeem it. Technology and social media should be viewed like any other area of a Christian’s life, not exempt from our Christianity but an expression of our Christianity. Whether we are at work or online, whether we are talking with a neighbor or facetiming with a friend, we should always be seeking ways to season our conversations and actions with the salt of our faith.
So before your next log-in, take a few minutes to make sure you know your boundaries and draw a line in the technology sand.
Be disciplined and stay committed to avoiding anything that would cause you to compromise and cross that line. Don’t play the “how close can I get to the line without crossing it?” game. Determine to stay far away from the line. Your line may be related to how much free time to spend using technology. It may simply be not picking up your phone when you are in the company of others. Or, your line may be what you can and cannot look at online or what you should and should not post on social media. Whatever line you decide to draw in the sand of technology, make sure that you are doing it all for the glory of God.
As the apostle Paul said, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, nkjv). Applicationally we might put it this way: Therefore, whatever you look at online, whatever you post personally, however you use technology, make sure that it is all glorifying to God.
We have been created to worship God and to glorify God. So let’s make it our aim to do that in every area of our lives, including our use of technology.
Mike Lutz is the author of the newly released daily devotional “God Every Day: 365 Life Application Devotions.” Mike also has authored the inspirational book “Discovering God’s Will for Your Life: Your Journey with God.” For more information visit www.MikeLutz.org.