Pocket Idols

In a recent Facebook status update, I made the observation while sitting in a crowded cafe that I wondered “…if the time we used to spend thinking on the things of God is now taken up by our smart phones?”

The problem isn’t inherently with our smart phones. We have all sorts of technology that can take our time. Laptops, YouTube, Hulu, television, movies, music, fantasy leagues; it’s an endless list. I’m by no means anti-technology. I work with it everyday, have a smart phone with a data plan, am on Facebook, etc. Each of us has a responsibility to manage our time, our thoughts, our hobbies and interests. The infamous bumper sticker, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” comes to mind. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to shake the observation I had at that crowded cafe.

Sitting down for breakfast last week I finally had a breakthrough. I believe mobile devices have the incredible potential to turn our affections away from God, more so than other technology and here’s why. Unlike the TV, the personal computer or even the laptop, mobile devices are always on and always with us. As such we are tethered to our social networks, our news, apps and everything else clawing for our intention, our time, our thoughts and yes, our affections.

The things that can turn our affections away from God are now more readily accessible and more difficult to disconnect from.

So what’s the point? I’m not calling for boycotts or for everyone to return to the dark ages. Mobile technology has the potential for good and there is so much about it that is good. I simply hope that there is a realization that there are two sides to the coin.

All the good that mobile devices provide open us up to unprecedented amounts of proverbial “golden calves.” And we can get comfortable, love our Tweets, our status updates, the Facebook banter, our fantasy leagues, Farmville scores, go to church on Sunday and yet be oblivious to the idols in our pocket. We co-exist and the greatest lie we tell ourselves is to puff up our chest and say technology has little to no effect on us. Make no mistake, it does effect us, it already has and it already is.

As Christians, we should come to grips with that reality. If we don’t believe there is a great potential for our heart to turn its affections from God and that there is a virtually endless supply of things which can cause it; we run the risk of diluting our influence, losing our effectiveness and as Tozer says, become just another “sluggard”.

Use technology, don’t bury your head in the sand or retreat to an underground bunker. For those who are given much, much is expected. But always be on guard. Our hearts are as deceitful as the things that clamor for our attention.

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