It seems inescapable. Everywhere we look, we see people on phones, tablets, and computers. Many of them wear ear buds or headphones. Our devices accompany us everywhere, relentlessly absorbing our attention. Real life experiences have become mere fodder for selfies and status updates. Time spent waiting is synonymous with time spent scrolling. Even small children are becoming addicted to their parents’ phones. Technology has taken over our lives.
For Christians, this should raise a bright red flag. We must take a serious look at how technology is impacting our Christian walk. We can no longer turn a blind eye and assume that technology is moving us forward. Experts are warning us of alarming psychological effects that have been tracked to smartphone use. Could the use of technology be compromising our spiritual health as well? Here are some important questions to ask:
Is technology tempting me to sin?
Smartphones are designed to be easy to use, but this is a double-edged sword. Does this ease empower temptation? So many things are just a click away: scrolling social media, shopping, web surfing, instant messaging, etc. But are those clicks leading to vain comparison? Shopping addiction? Pornography addiction? Does an online message to a friend lead to an extra-marital affair?
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Are you being devoured by the many temptations of the enemy on your phone? If so, consider a flip-phone. Sound extreme? Remember Jesus’ words: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:30).
Is technology helping me escape reality?
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? Your phone can tell you, and it’s a good idea to check it out. Most adults spend 3 to 4 hours on their phones every day. For young people, it is much more.
The fact of the matter is, the more time we spend staring at a screen, the less time we spend in the real world. Are we escaping the problems of the day by retreating to our phones? Are we living virtual lives by spending hours playing video games or browsing social media? It is time to confront a harsh reality: these are completely artificial worlds that have little to no impact on reality. Facebook profiles often consist of attractive photos, great status updates, and exciting “check-ins.” People have gotten so good at presenting themselves that it has come to be known as “branding.” As Christians, we must wake up to the illusion cast by social media.
It is a sin for us to want to escape reality and live in a fictitious world. We need to guard our hearts from doing just that with our phones.
Has technology tainted my solitude?
With technology, we are never alone. We are constantly bombarded with dings and notifications. How long has it been since you spent some time truly alone? You are not alone when you carry a smartphone, because people are still speaking to you in various ways. You may have so many voices rattling around in your head that you don’t even know what the sound of your own thoughts is like. This should sadden us, because we have lost the benefit of solitude.
Solitude used to be valued, for it was the state in which people could really think and gather their thoughts about things. Now phones are controlling our thoughts. We need to spend time alone, away from distractions. Put your phone away and get out into nature for some real solitude. There you can meditate on this verse: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).
Is technology helping me align my overall living with the Bible?
When we look at what the Bible says about how we should live, we see that much of it is not accomplished with our devices. If we put technology away, we might spend more time loving our neighbors and being doers of the Word. We might find valuable time for Bible study and prayer. Most of all, we might be in a better position for the Lord to speak to us. In a world filled with distracted people, we have a huge opportunity to be present in the moment, aware of the needs of those around us! We can live out Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
It boils down to this: What is the purpose of your life? Is technology helping or hurting you in living out that purpose? It really is that simple. The greater our technology becomes, the greater wisdom we must have in wielding it. The more power it affords us, the more damage we can do by using it foolishly and sinfully. We must think about every click, every swipe, and every moment we spend mindlessly on social media. These actions are leading us somewhere. As Christians, let us make sure it is somewhere we really want to go.