I believe there is a new conversation going on in the church regarding technology. Christians have (rightly) always been a little suspect about new stuff and for good reason. New isn’t always good. It isn’t always bad either. But we must use, embrace, and even create with discernment, knowing that mediums can be used for both good and evil.
Digital technology is like this. We are seeing its devastating toll on kids, families, and sometimes ministries. But, as Paul says in Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.” So underneath the evil there is always a greater work of good in the world. And I believe this is the case with the digital world. I’m amazed by the terrific work and innovation being done by the church. The gospel is advancing in previously remote places and untold millions are hearing the good news, because technology is taking it there.
We shouldn’t fear technology, but we should embrace biblical guardrails like Covenant Eyes, not to restrict us, but to give us the freedom from sin so we can fulfill God’s mission in the world.
When I was writing my latest book, iFaith, I stumbled across a verse at the end of Genesis 4. It’s almost a throw-away line I have a likely skipped in my Bible reading. But it says this, “then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.”
This verse becomes powerful when you realize the context. Almost all of chapter four fleshes out the descendants of Cain’s family. This was Adam’s son who murdered Abel and whom God graciously kept alive. His family was progressive, industrious, and inventive. They established the first cities. They pioneered musical instruments and metallurgy. With each generation, there were new discoveries and new “technologies.”
And yet, the sad history of Cain’s family is that they progressed without God. They murdered, lied, committed adultery. But the Bible says nothing about worshiping God. This was a series of generations in love with itself and its ability to create. And often these inventions were used for evil ends. Sound familiar?
So at the end of this short history of their family in Genesis, we see the writer, Moses, break in with a simple line about the other son of Adam, Seth. All it says about Seth was this: then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.
As it turns out, it was Cain’s descendants God had to destroy. All this progress without God led them to become self-destructive. Essentially God had to destroy man to save man.
But who was left? Noah and his family, descendants of Seth. The people who weren’t known for their building or their cool inventions, but for their worship of God.
What is the lesson for us today? Not that we shouldn’t be progressive, inventive, or creative. In fact, this is the very mandate of God given to Adam. Art, invention, technology–each new discovery only magnifies God, who gave us the hands and minds to create. And, the line of those who followed God, Seth’s family, became builders. Noah built an Ark. Abraham built a nation. Joseph rebuilt an entire empire.
The lesson, however, is that progress without God leads to self-destruction. This is a sobering thought for us who live in today’s world as Christians. We often become so enamored with our gadgets, we begin to worship them as gods. And we become so dependent on technology, it replaces a dependence upon God.
Like Seth’s family, let’s be builders, but let’s be known more about our worship of God. Let’s be awed by Apple, but bow down in worship and adoration of God. Let’s pursue new tools, but let’s pursue God more passionately. Let’s be known for knowledge, but let’s be students of Jesus Christ.
Because an approach that views technology and progress as tools to be used rather than gods to be served will always use them for constructive rather than destructive ends.
And like Seth’s family, putting God first will save our families, our communities, and our nation from the unwanted consequences of the humanistic spirit of Cain.
Prosperity without humility leads to idolatry and futility.
“Israel is a lush vine; it yields FRUIT FOR ITSELF.
The more his fruit increased, the more he increased his altars.
The better his land produced, the better they made sacred pillars” (Hosea 10:1, emphasis mine).
I’ve often wondered what it looks like to worship technology. I believe it comes down to “how” and “how much.”
I am one to use my iPad close to six hours each day. What do I do with my time on it? Very little time is spent paying mindless games. The majority is reading Christian books, responding to prayer requests from friends, reading articles to help strengthen my walk with Christ, and listening to a variety of teachers via podcasts.
A lot of these things I would not have access to without technology. Would I miss my iPad if it were to break or get lost? Yes. What would I do without it? Spend more time talking with God than I already do.
I think it’s a toss-up. The content can be good, and going without can yield even better fruit for us.
Great post. Thanks so much for this.