When I was on vacation in California, and Brenda’s smart phone was giving us driving directions, and successfully delivering us right to the doorsteps of our desired destination, it occurred to me that technology has advanced at lightening speed.
Think about it for a minute…
Our grandparents were alive to witness the first plane fly for the first time.
Look how far air travel has come.
ost of human history it was only a dream. But for us, it is no longer a dream, but rather a commonplace occurrence that is often regarded as inconvenient.
What about the computing power that it took to land a man on the moon?
We carry smart phones around in our pockets that DWARF the technology that allowed for that first man to walk on the moon.
Our seemingly insatiable demand for new, fast, conveniences can barely keep up.
Whether we like it or not, our world is a technological one, and this reality affects the way we work and live, our relationships, and even how we follow Jesus.
Two thousand years ago, there was no TWITTER, or FACEBOOK but the Apostle James knew the power of short, impactful statements.
He Probably would have been a TWITTER star back then.
James summarized the Christian life-like this: (James 1:27) “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world”
Because orphans and widows are among the most vulnerable members of society, God shows special concern for them. To care for them is to be like God.
Jesus humbled himself and came to dwell with broken people, living out this ethic during his time here on Earth.
Following Jesus today looks very much the same. It requires us to stoop down and touch the hurting orphans and widows among us.
We are to keep ourselves “unstained by the world.” All of us have been beaten, battered, and tarnished by living in this world. Not one of us will escape that fate during our time here. Even Jesus himself bears the scars of what this world did to him.
James isn’t talking about keeping free from these kinds of stains; he is talking about holiness and purity, the marks of a life lived by walking in our Savior’s footsteps.
He wants us to learn to be survivors of the abuses we encounter, and to learn to walk in faith because of those experiences, and remember who it was that carried us through the trials.
During His lifetime, Jesus taught his disciples daily, so that when he was no longer with them, they could continue to spread his word and change the world.
The world back then did not have the “Information Super- Highway” like we do today. What they had instead were a series of roads constructed by the Romans that allowed them to travel to the outermost regions and share the Gospel. As they shared the knowledge that they had been taught, that knowledge was spread from city to city and from generation to generation right down to our own present time.
As we strive to walk in close step with Jesus, technology offers some wonderful tools. The world is now more connected, we find ourselves with more opportunities than ever before to offer a cup of clean water in his name.
But for every breakthrough in technology that empowers us to love others in new and easier ways, we also are faced with a choice.
When an earthquake or typhoon strikes, sending aid is now as quick and easy as sending a text message.
The danger we face is when we see natural disasters on screens day after day, we can become dull to the very real and deep pain of others.
While the internet does in fact make it easier to help the poor many are finding it easy to ignore the extreme poverty when the eyes staring back at you can be reduced into tiny pixels on a computer screen.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram connect us to the encouragement of friends and family, but social media also makes it possible for “friends” to never speak or see one another.
We need to be aware of the lure for this counterfeit community. We are created with a need for human contact. Technology so far has failed to replicate the power of a loving touch, or the comfort of a friend sitting in your home sharing life with you.
Today we can be completely in sync with the surrounding culture while living completely alone.
Though I don’t believe it’s necessary to go off-grid, I also don’t believe we need to be blown away by every “techie wind” that blows in our direction.
Technology is NOT the problem, it is how we choose to interact with it that can be the source of problems. It might be tempting at times to see issues as all or nothing, but you can choose to remember that there is a middle road that still exists today…
And it passes straight through the New Testament.
In the first century, as the apostles and first missionaries went out to deliver their message, they depended heavily on the technology of their day…ROADS, the original broadband network.
And as the good news went out, the first Christians were writing letters. The Gospels and letters of the New Testament are themselves the ancient equivalent of sermons on MP3. They were portable and reproducible. When Paul couldn’t visit Rome, he sent a letter to outline his theology and encourage his faithful ones.
If he had today’s technology, he might have recorded a video and sent them the You Tube link. The book of Romans is, in essence, a recorded message available for “playback” whenever we need it.
The early church used the technology available to them to enhance their discipleship, and we need to do the same with ours.
For some this may mean finding new ways to get connected.
For others it may mean getting unplugged and engaging real people in their neighborhoods.
To the extent that our digital lives and devices help us connect with one another to become more like Christ, they are a blessing.
Following Jesus was the highest priority for the first Christians, and it must be ours too…Scrrens or no screens!