By Rick Smith
In the little over a decade I’ve been involved in ministry, there are a few things I’ve learned are always true: 1) God is in the business of changing lives. 2) No one is as “perfect” as you think they are. 3) Technology hurts (and helps) more people than almost anything in the history of man.
We may think of it as a new thing, but technology has been helping and hurting people since the beginning of man. In the first few pages of our Bible we see people turning leaves into clothes (Genesis 3:7), turning wood into arks (Genesis 6), and turning bricks into towers (Genesis 11). These are all very basic examples of using technology.
Of course, when people today talk about technology, they’re typically referring to digital technology (something that has to be turned on or plugged in). In the course of doing ministry I have heard countless stories of people using digital technology to do great things, as well as destructive ones.
Since most of us are constantly using some form of technology from the time we wake up to the time we fall asleep, I thought I would give you a few tips to help you use technology, instead of technology using you.
How Technology Uses You
Technology is a gift given to us from God, and like many of God’s gifts, we often choose to use it for evil instead of good. Instead of using technology for its God-intended purpose, it uses us as a pawn and causes pain to our heart, soul, and mind. Here are a few examples of how technology uses us:
When we use the web to watch porn or look at pornographic images. This is an obvious one, but one that seems to really get a grip on lots of folks. It doesn’t even have to be a pornographic site: Netflix, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc., can all cause problems for some people. If something in any of those places causes you to stumble, get rid of it. Quick!
When we use the web to lust after anything we don’t have. There are a lot of subtle ways we do this. It could be spending hours on Pinterest thinking how much happier we would be if we had that “awesome” new bathroom, kitchen, or “dream wedding”; looking at our friend’s Facebook feed and thinking how much better life would be if we could go on a vacation like (fill in the blank with one of your Facebook friends) went on or had a boyfriend/girlfriend like they have; or spending hours on Zillow thinking about a way to afford that dream home (that we think we need or deserve in our 20s or 30s). For some people Ikea.com can cause them to lust just as much as a porn website. The bottom line is this: if looking at anything online causes you to stumble or becomes an idol of worship to you, it’s technology using you, and it’s wicked. Don’t let Satan play you for a fool.
When we use technology to get ahead of God. One of the most common pieces of advice I give my single friends it to move slowly in relationships and guard their hearts. I remember staying up all night and “falling in love” with girls in my teens and early twenties because I talked to them all night on the phone or instant messenger. I rushed things that God didn’t me to rush into. Go slow. Don’t spend all night talking to someone you just met on Facebook messenger or text message.
Ways to Use Technology to Win!
I could go on forever about the ways I’ve seen God use technology to change people’s lives and to do good in the world. Many of these will be obvious to you, but I thought I would list out a few examples:
Grow in your faith. Today we have access to a treasure never before seen in the history of the world: a virtually unlimited library of free resources to help people grow and mature in their faith! There are websites, podcasts, apps, live streams, commentaries, and online Bibles. We live in a time where you can learn and grow as a Christian as you commute to work, brush your teeth, go on a run, or ride in an airplane. There are many great resources; below are just a few of my favorites:
Create awareness and share your faith. Digital Technology has given each of us a worldwide platform at our fingertips. We can use hashtags to create awareness about causes, use social media to give testimony to what God is doing in our lives, create blogs to bring attention to important causes, or create a YouTube channel to share Biblical truth. It’s a great power to be used responsibly.
Enjoy it! God gives us many gifts that are simply for us to enjoy, and I believe digital technology can be used simply for our enjoyment as well. I don’t think God has any problem with us playing a quick came of Words With Friends while using the bathroom (hey, I’m just being honest!), enjoying a movie with our friends (and it doesn’t even have to be The Passion of Christ!), or Facetiming with our parents who live out of town. Of course, all of those things can be abused and cause us to be distracted, but in moderation I think they are all gifts given from the Gift Giver for us to enjoy.
Technology, especially digital technology, can harm or help; give glory or bring destruction. We can use it, or it can use us. But if we are wise, we can use the gift of digital technology that God has given us to change the world, make an impact, grow in our faith, and have a little fun!
What are some of your favorite uses of digital technology (i.e.: some of your favorite apps, favorite websites, or favorite movies to watch with your friends)? Leave a comment below and let us know!