From scrolling through endless pages of social media for the latest news stories to receiving updates on our family, friends, and community, today’s technology has become an extension of ourselves. As it continues to develop, it demands that we are permanently attached, connected, and plugged in. We have become so immersed that there are areas around the world implementing traffic signals into pathways to catch the attention of those glued to their devices. Our time—one of the most valuable and limited resources on earth—has been completely consumed by technology. For something so important yet so finite, we have to personally address if our smartphones, tablets, and computers are holding our attention and time captive.
We see in Scripture that the apostle Paul challenges us as Christians to use our time wisely. He mentions, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 HCSB). Technology in and of itself is not evil—I’m using it right now to write this article and you’re using it to read it. However, technology becomes evil when we make it our master. For many of us, we have become enslaved to the product that was originally designed as a tool for our lives—mistaking technology for life itself. Instead of exploring the beauty that God has created all around us, we are too busy scrolling through pictures of it. Instead of taking time to invest in genuine relationships, we are sinking behind the screen, comparing our lives to someone else’s highlights. Instead of being true followers of Jesus, we are using Jesus to get more followers. We have to face the hard truth that we have become obsessed, addicted, and dependent on what was created to serve us.
How do we take back the time that technology has stolen? What may seem like a hopeless question, thanks to the way technology is advancing and intensifying every second, God has equipped us to answer. Because the systems behind social-networking, gaming, streaming, and scrolling are built to generate habit-forming behaviors, we have to establish boundaries around the use of these devices. Next time you pick up your phone, turn on your TV, or grab your laptop ask yourself these five questions:
- For what purpose am I using technology?
- Is my use of technology glorying to God and bringing me closer to Him?
- How much time am I allotting myself for this particular activity?
- Is there something else that I could be doing that is more productive?
- Am I choosing to place any or all of this activity in front of God, thus idolizing it?
Next time you feel the urge to scroll through Facebook or Instagram, pull out your Bible and spend time with the Lord. Next time you find yourself binge-watching episodes on Netflix, call up that old friend and ask them to grab a cup of coffee. Next time you catch yourself depressed from the unending negative updates from the news, grab your journal and find a quiet place to write down your prayers. Next time your phone demands your attention, put it on silent, place it in your pocket, and look up at God’s beauty that is right in front of you. God has given us so much: mercy, grace, forgiveness, and peace to name a few. The least we can do is ensure our technology is used for Him and not against Him. When media is used as tools for discipleship and fellowship rather than distractions and temptations leading to sin, it becomes a glorious creation that aids us—and others around us—in having a stronger, more devoted relationship with Christ.