Beloved of God:
As a former techie, (my background is in computer science) I am particularly aware that there is a fine line between electronic media being a friend and being a foe. The proliferation of laptops, smart phones, tablet PCs, IPods and electronic book readers has literally brought the world to our fingertips. People have unprecedented access to news, information, music, entertainment, and people through these tools that are supposed to make our lives easier and more efficient. Everyone is connecting and status checking on Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, and putting out “tweets” to be followed on Twitter, so there is no reason for anyone to ever lose touch with anyone. Everyone is “Googling” to their hearts content, so there is no longer any excuse for not having an immediate answer to any question. Books can be downloaded and read on electronic screens, and excerpted though “cutting and pasting” so that no one need clutter their homes with bookshelves, and note cards are obsolete.
I believe that these tools should be embraced for all that they are worth and used for all of the benefits that they provide. As Christians, our resistance to change both organizationally and technologically tends to keep us in the dark ages. However, this was not always so. Use of the prevailing technologies of the day is quite biblical. The New Testament church in Acts took advantage of the latest innovations of the day for the advance of the church’s mission almost from its inception. In the early days of the Roman Empire, the Roman road system was an innovation developed to enhance the movement of armies, goods, and information to and from the far reaches of the Empire. When the church was born, God positioned Peter, Paul and the other apostles to co-opt the use of that system. The roads became a network of travel routes for the spreading of the gospel. Even the “scattering” of the disciples during persecution, and the consequent use of those roads as roads of escape, led to more people hearing the good news of Jesus. The early apostles redeemed what was created for one set of purposes and used it for God’s purposes.
Why then, should we not use our “statuses” on social networking sites as a platform for telling of God’s goodness, and encouraging one another? Why should we not have people follow us on Twitter as we follow Christ? Why should we not be “blogging” our testimonies, and situating our churches on search engines so that people who are looking for a church can “Google” us? These things are merely tools, and God can take any tool in the hands of the right person and use it for His Glory.
Of course, there are two inherent dangers in the use of tools such as these. The first is that while they enable good to be done more efficiently, they can increase the boldness of sin and its impact as well. The harm of a thoughtless status message is multiplied when it is broadcasted to the entire online world. The value of the availability of endless worthwhile information is sometimes counterbalanced by the amount of information that is at best unsubstantiated and erroneous (i.e., every website is not telling you the truth), and at worst garbage and smut. The ability to make new connections online is a plus, but the “anonymity” makes it easier for shady people and predators to take advantage of the unsuspecting. While the tool of technology can be a wonder, it can also be a horror if being operated by wronghanded people with twisted hearts.
The second danger is that, like anything created to enhance our lives, technological tools can become the focus of our lives. Our lives are spent conversing via screens and keyboards (or smart phones) rather than learning to talk to people. Eyes glued to a screen can be both dangerous and addicting (there is a reason why the term “Crack-berry” was coined). We waste hours awaiting the next “status update,” the next generation in communication (5G), or the newest, fastest version of our favorite device or application. When our relationship with THINGS becomes more important to us than our relationships with people, or even more importantly than our relationship with God, we are bordering on techidolatry and missing out on the experience of real relationships.
God said to Israel in Habakkuk 2, “How foolish to trust in something made by your own hands!” The principle is clear. We ought to love people, and use things, and not the other way around! Use things, but don’t let things use you! And of course, we ought to love God above ALL things. If we can keep these things in perspective, our techie toys and tools can greatly enhance our service to God and humanity.
The Force is already with you. His name is JESUS!!