HOW SMART PHONES HAVE STAINED OUR SPIRITUALITY
It happened to me one morning last week as I was beginning my own personal study of the book of Isaiah. What once was a cherished time in the Word of God—learning, studying, and being challenged to grow spiritually—had turned into a time of perusing God’s Word for good thoughts or ideas to post on Twitter or my blog. I’ve been vaguely aware of this for quite some time, but last week, the harsh, embarrassing reality hit me in the face. (It may have had something to do with the content of Isaiah 1.)
UGH! When it hit me, I was mad, I was shocked, I was ashamed, I was ticked off that somewhere along the way, I had been sucked into the delusional abyss of instant everything. Sad but true! Yep…my smart phone has stained my spirituality. Not only mine, but yours too.
If you believe everything you read, then it appears we have to morph all things Christian into this fast-moving, ever-changing, technological world. For the record, I don’t buy it. Call me old fashioned. Call me old school. Call me out-of-date and not with the program. But I firmly believe that in 10-20 years there will be some serious spiritual fallout from the current compulsion with smart phones and social media. I don’t claim to know what that fallout will look like or how it will play out, but I’m telling you, spiritually speaking we will be so consumed with instant connection that we will hardly connect with God at all.
Yet…we’re supposed to embrace this new “way of life.” This life—this crazy, superficially-connected, “I can’t even put my phone away for 30 minutes” life—is supposed to be accepted as the norm. For those of you who are texting or Twitter fans, God’s recurring posts to His followers would contain the popular #SMH. For those of you who aren’t text or Twitter savvy, that means “Shaking My Head.” Yes, because our smart phones have stained our spirituality, I think God is up there shaking His head.
Gone are the days of picking up a real bible (that book with a cover that has etched writing and lots of white pages with black ink inside) and highlighting passages and writing notes in the margins. (Yeah…I know…you can do that on your smart phone.) In its place, we’ve signed up for a verse of the day text message.
Gone are the days of deeply studying God’s Word, devoting time each morning to see how He might be challenging us to change and grow. Instead, we read someone’s blog, get a quick “warm fuzzy” and go on our way fully believing we’ve had our “God time.”
Gone are the days of spending 30 minutes to an hour on our couch in prayer for the things that burden us and others. It’s much easier and quicker to post our prayer requests on Facebook and deceive ourselves into believing everyone who sees it will intercede on our behalf. Guess what…just because you get 47 “likes” on your Facebook prayer request, I assure you less than 10% of those people are actually spending time praying for you in any heartfelt, intercessory way.
Gone are the days where people actually bring their bibles to church. Rather we’ve opted for the “less is more” theory, plus it’s pretty hip to have a bible app on your smart phone. Yet when the pastor is preaching the Word of God, it’s not the bible app we’re viewing. It’s Facebook, email, the weather, sports scores, etc. Oh, we start fully engaged with the pastor and fully engaged with the correct passage pulled up on our bible app. But the tug of other knowledge, gossip, events, and information is only one slide or tap away from the bible app. And so it goes…smart phones have stained our spirituality.
Am I standing on top of my saintly spiritual mountain looking down in judgment on all the stained smart phone addicts? No, not at all. That would be totally hypocritical of me. I’m telling you I’m guilty as charged. I too, have fallen prey to my smart phone’s charming, seemingly innocent, superficially harmless cons.
We have traded the sacred for the social. You can argue all you want. You can defend yourself, your kids, and even your church if you want. But deep down, I think we all know there’s truth here. If we began to take inventory of our time spent each day on spiritual growth vs. social connectivity, we’d all be loaded on the latter. And maybe that’s okay with some folks. But it’s not okay with me. And I pray that one day it won’t be okay with my kids, my family, my friends, and my church either.
Do I have a solution? Unfortunately, no. We can create boundaries, but unfortunately boundaries can easily evaporate the moment I feel the “need” to be connected.
Let me go back to what started this post. It all began with Isaiah 1. This is what God said way back then (perhaps some 2,700 years ago):
- “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” (verse 2)
- “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt…” (verse 4)
- “They have forsaken the Lord…” (verse 4)
- “Your whole head is injured, your whole heart is afflicted…” (verse 5)
- “…there is no soundness…” (verse 6)
- “…I want no more of your pious meetings…” (verse 13)
So, they didn’t have smart phones in Israel back in 760 BC. But I can tell you the principle is the same. They traded the sacred for the social. It wasn’t smart phones that stained their spirituality, but they bought into similar lies—less is more, quick fix, warm fuzzy, superficial connectivity. And look what God had to say about it back then. Ouch!
“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9). Friends, you cannot stand firmly on your smart phone. It’s attractive and exciting and fun, but it is not firm. It’s far more social than it is spiritual. It’s far less sacred than it is sturdy.
How has your smart phone stained your spirituality?
How have you traded the sacred for the social?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting on this post.