As believers in the 21st Century, we’ve got to get technology right. God is the one who created technology by calling Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28 emphasis mine). In filling the earth, they would multiply humanity and in subduing it, God would call them as his representatives to care for the earth in a way that reflected His desires. Adam and Eve would take the raw materials God gave them and “reorder them for human purposes” (Reinke, 2017). Sounds like technology to me.
The construction of homes, advances in modern medicine, the publishing of books, the crafting of a delicious meal, the beautiful canvas masterpiece, and the skillfully composed song all scream of this reordering labeled as technology. Making man in God’s image has given humanity the intelligence to take the surplus of creation before our eyes and mold it in ways that reflect his character. The fall of man and sin has taken this joy and twisted it so the things we touch are used for both redemptive and corrupt purposes. This is where the phone comes in…
Your Phone Affects You More Than You Think
I recently had the joy of picking up Tony Reinke’s new book “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You”. Its loaded with God-given wisdom on how we can wield our phones either as tools for the redemptive good of people and the expansion of God’s Kingdom or tools for spreading about the corruption of sin on this planet. I was hesitant to pick it up at first, not knowing what to expect and fearful of how the Lord might convict my soul. What I found in these pages was wisdom, encouragement, conviction, and the Spirit of God revealing to me how I had abused this gift in my own life to nurture sin at work in my heart. This book is a must-read for any believer with a smartphone.
The glaring truth I know to be staring you and me in the face as we close 2017 is this: Whether we would like to admit it or not, our hearts have been deeply affected by the smartphones in our pockets. God is doing a work continuing to expose this in me—empowering me to work through it by his grace seeing the glories of the gospel become clear as it relates to how I use my own phone.
My Phone Affects Me More Than I Think
Looking at some of the 12 ways Tony lays out for us in this book, I want to show you how I’ve seen a couple of these expose things in my own heart. I want to go first in this, hoping for God to reveal where your affections are pulled away from the Lord and into the pixels staring back at you before you go to sleep each night. I am only focusing on reasons 1, 3, and 4 for this blog post, but I think you will get a taste of how God used all twelve reasons to expose things in me by showing you these three.
#1 We Are Addicted to Distraction- Looking at your screen in public has become the new thing to run to when faced with an uncomfortable situation. Like yawning, once you pick up your smartphone in public you will see others around you following suit (you should try this sometime). I have seen how I am prone to run to this distraction in an effort to escape my responsibilities, sorrows, fears, and doubts. There is something about silence/boredom that reminds us how finite we are before an infinite God. When the discomfort of these feelings sets in, I run from thoughts of eternity to the distracting screen and endless newsfeed before me, numbing the discomfort and ignoring the sin in my heart for temporal pleasures.
#3 We Crave Immediate Approval- Like anyone, I can be prone to post something to social media to see how someone will respond to it, like posting a picture of my son only to go back and count how many “likes” it got to feed my desire to be known and affirmed by others. Soon I began to realize something. The pull of affirmation moved me from sharing life experiences with others to creating life experiences so they could be shared. In this way, I and the people of my life became actors in the endless newsfeed of posts I longed for people to see, affirm, and covet.
#4 We Lose Our Literacy- When is the last time you read a book? Better question, when is the last time you thought deeply about something that was more than 140 characters (or 280 since the new Twitter update)? The constant habit of receiving little bits of much information has caused us to lose our ability to think deeply about things. We glaze over the headlines, but hardly ever read the article. We reduce our Bible study down to a five-minute read and go on to the next thing. It’s rare for the average person to ponder something deeply, and skimming through shallow “tweets” has stolen from our minds the desire to open up a good book and dig for treasure.
I’ve read more books in the last year than I have in my entire life. This gives you a picture of how God’s grace has worked in overcoming technology’s drastic effects on my reading habits.
If you have a smartphone, you need to read this. I believe the Lord wants to work in His people to be a leading voice in redeeming the use of our smartphones. They are incredible tools given to us by God that allow us to intake and spread truth in ways the church of the first century would have never imagined.
Are you reading this on your phone?
Pick the book up and give it a read. Ask God to change you and buckle your seat belts. You’re in for a treat.
You can pick up Tony’s book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You here.