I. Some Key Challenges:
Living in a digital age…
- Means often being distracted
- Often leads to increased consumerism
- Can lead to a loss of boundaries between work and home life
- Compounds challenges for parenting
“We feel helpless to prevent…[out kids] from overexposure, far too early, to the most violent and intimate facts of life….Parents feel out of control, hopelessly overmatched by the deluge of devices. And we can’t even count on one another to back us up. Parents who set limits on their children’s use of technology often experience intense peer pressure – from other parents!” – Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family
- Can deeply complicate communication
- Lead to feelings described by sociologists as “The Fear of Missing Out” (or FOMO) and “The Fear of Not Being Amazing” (FNBA)
- Can lead to uncivil and divisive social media communication
II. Technologies Can Be Developed For Good Ends
“Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground” – Genesis 1:26
To be made in the image of God means that we are “relational beings” – made for connection with him, others, our own selves, and the rest of creation.
We have a special role as well – this task of co-creativity with God.
“Adam and Eve…work not only for God but with God in making God’s world work…The human task of cultivating and enculturating [making culture out of] the earth included everything from farming to genetic engineering, from landscape architecture to playing the flute (Gen 4:21).” – Paul Stevens, The Other Six Days
Surely, developing at least some forms of technology is – or can be – a part of our good, God-given task. But like any “good thing”, tech can become ‘out of place.’
III. From Mediated Living to Embodied Life
The nature of the technologies we often enjoy is such that they too often function, by design, to insulate us from even thinking about real life
“Innumerable gadgets, websites, channels, streaming services, songs, films, and biometric wristbands vie for our attention. Without our attention, their existence is unjustified…Flashing lights, vibrations, bells ringing, little red dots, email alerts, notifications, pop-up windows, commercials, news tickers, browser tabs – everything is designed to capture our attention.” – Alan Noble, Disruptive Witness
Sometimes we welcome the distraction because when it gets quiet, and we are left alone with ourselves, those biggest questions about the meaning of our lives, and the sinking dread of having to deal with our own failures – it’s in the quiet, ‘undistracted times’ that these rise to the surface.
“What’s my purpose, huh? What’s my future? I don’t knowThese are the questions I address before I go to sleep. I wish my mind would turn off with the lights on my TV screen, But here in the dark, everything off I start to think, It gets hard to breathe. I’m in over my head…All these thoughts are an ocean I’m drowning in…” – Judah and the Lion, “Over My Head”
“The person I’m most uncomfortable being alone with is myself. And that’s okay, because I’ve become very good at avoiding myself….Self-avoidance is probably my most advanced skill set” – Alan Noble
IV. God’s Wisdom
Wisdom – well – that’s all about learning to think and then act through the lens of who God is, and how he created us to live. It means learning to pay attention to his ways.
And that, in particular, is seen through the teachings of the Bible, but most perfectly in Jesus’ own life and teaching. The apostle Paul, he actually calls Jesus – “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24).
The “Wise” and the “Fool” in the Proverbs
The “wise” are described in the Proverbs as being teachable, ready to learn, to think things through, seeking knowledge – not living as though they already “know it all” (18:5); and they store up this knowledge to make good use of it (10:14).
The wise are those who listen to instruction (13:1) and counsel (12:5), they accept commands (10:8), and even love when someone offers “reproof”, meaning, they help point out where there is a lack of wisdom and help them get back on track (9:8).
A wise person walks with people who are already wise (13:20), and that increases their wisdom (1:5; 15:31-32).
The Proverbs also say that someone who has found wisdom, well she spreads it (15:7) and becomes a fountain of life in her community (13:14). The wise, they are those who have control over their emotions, they don’t let their feeling control their acting (29:11)… And the Proverbs writer, he says that those who live wisely, they bring joy to their parents (15:20; 23:24), they protected themselves by making wise choices (13:14), and, ultimately, they actually bring healing to others (12:18). (Borrowed from Bruce Waltke, Proverbs).
“My son [or daughter], if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.” – Proverbs 2:1-5
Take Home One: Will I commit to become wise? And will I live it out with courage?
“In the psalms and proverbs of the Hebrew Bible, the fool is the one who doesn’t know God, doesn’t understand fellow human beings, and doesn’t even really know himself (“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing personal opinion [Prov 18:2] – which also sounds a lot like social media). A fool can know a lot of things, but a fool doesn’t really know how to act in a way that will serve the flourishing of persons – even, in the end, his own flourishing. The fool may be well educated, but the fool does not understand. When he acts, the results are, sooner or later, hilarious and disastrous in equal measure.” – Andy Crouch
V. The Good News
God didn’t just send us a message about himself. “The Word – the message of hope and meaning in life, real “Wisdom” – the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
– John 1:14
God is the Message himself. God the Son, Jesus, shows up as a person – bodily, physically present.
The “incarnation” of Jesus is actually a model, it “pictures”, how Christians are to live. “As the Father sent me, I am sending you.” – John 20:21
The Christian faith integrates body and soul, so that we cannot ignore one part to the exclusion of the other. This means that being “fully human” and having truly human interaction – becoming the people God made us to be – that will require that by and large, we are physically present in our interactions.
VI. Making time and space for intentional, un-distracted connection – with God, others, and even our own selves.
Take Home Two: Making time for reading the Scriptures and for prayer, without your phone in the room…and using a physical Bible and journal
Take Home Three: Eat together. It is a counter-cultural action to simply be present, undistracted, with each other.
Life Group Discussion and Further Reflection:
1. As we introduce this new series on being “tech-wise”, what are some of the key challenges that you personally face in your interaction with the digital world?
2. In this first message, Pastor Dave described how the development of technologies could be used for human flourishing. How have you seen that? How has technology added significantly to your life?
3. Pastor Dave quoted lyrics from Judah and the Lion, and words from Alan Noble about how technologies can be a welcome distraction from introspection and self-reflection. Can you personally relate to that? Have you ever used technology as a ‘numbing’ agent? What was that like?
4. Wisdom, in the Bible, is different from simply knowledge – it is “understanding” about how to live for God’s glory and human flourishing. Read Proverbs 2:1-5.
How does gaining wisdom require commitment and courage?
5. Pastor Dave suggested that we need to create spaces away from distractions in order to be “real” about our lives and about God.
He pointed out two ways to begin making this space:
- Reading a physical Bible and writing a prayerful response in a journal
- Eating together – without any technologies involved at the table
How could you see these being helpful practices? What might change if that were a regular practice for you?
Prayer: Take time praying for each other in your Life Group. Ask that God would form us into a wise community – in terms of our use of technology and all our interactions. Pray that we would be open to all God wants to say and do in us personally, and collectively as his people this year.