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Pastoral Reflection: Technology and Faith

Is new technology good or bad? When we talk about technology we can often approach it with two equally wrong extremes. One is to be afraid of it. We can utterly reject it and condemn along with those who use it. On the other hand, we can wholeheartedly and uncritically embrace technology as good. Some have put their hope or even daresay their faith in it.

One of the things I hope not to do with this series is to make technology and technological development into a bad thing. It’s easy to criticize something because it is new or unknown. But on the other hand, as Christians we must be wise and not accept something uncritically. I say many times over to the young adults in our ministry: “When you do something, be careful of what it does to you.”

How are we to understand what the Bible says about technology? How are we to contrast it to how many in our culture today talk about technology and technological development? How are we to understand technology in our day and age?

The Cultural Mandate and the Fall:
In Genesis 1:28, immediately after God created Man and Woman, God blessed them. He also gave them a series of commands. He commissions them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”, and God also command them to “subdue it and have dominion over”, the creatures. Theologians have called this command, “The Cultural Mandate”. This mandate was given over to humanity to use the creation and to develop it. This command was not a license to abuse creation, but to steward it, cultivate it.

It is not too big of a step for us to understand that technological development would qualify under this mandate. Humanity was created to represent God and be stewards over God’s creation. In being stewards and representing God, technology is meant to serve those ends.

The problem is that technology becomes simply a tool to be used by whoever wields it. After the Fall, the desires of our hearts have turned astray. The problem isn’t technology. The problem is the desires of our hearts. Instead of worshiping the Creator and seeking him as the source of life and value we worship created things. We begin to believe and hope that technology will give us meaning, value and worth. We begin to trade long lasting eternal glories for cheap accomplishments.

A Call to Something Greater:
In this situation how does God call us to respond? Scripture calls people who have become aware of the ways they have erred to repentance. It means acknowledging the wrong deed, asking for forgiveness, and turning away from sin and turning to hope in Christ.

First, we are called to be aware of the situation. We must repent of wrongful desires that they are misplaced and idolatrous. We must admit that they take the place that God alone should occupy in our hearts. We must admit to the things we have done. We have wasted our time in personal pleasure instead of seeking for God’s kingdom. We must also repent of the things we have left undone. We have neglected our families, our church, our neighbors and those in need because of our actions. We must also repent of the desires of our hearts that would believe that our hearts are neutral toward technology. For some of us it may mean acknowledging that we have lost our control over these things.

Second, we are called to respond in faith and trust. We acknowledge that God is in the right and that we have been in the wrong. This is the basic acknowledgment of our mistake. We have been living as if God’s commands are an opinion that we are free to believe or ignore. Faith in God means to have faith that God’s commands are meant for our good. It means to acknowledge that His ways are better than my ways.

Third, we are called to respond by living as if Christ’s blood has redeemed us. On one hand, it means that Christ’s sacrifice for us was enough. We do not need to earn God’s favor. By God’s grace, we have received favor from the Lord. On the other hand, it means that we are now free to live for God’s purposes in our lives. We are free to orient our lives to please him more than ourselves.

Perhaps one of the reasons why we find such little power to detach ourselves from these addictions is because we have forgotten what God has called us to live for. God has not called us to live comfortably in isolation. God has called us into community with him and with one another. This actually takes effort and sacrifice. We can stay in our homes and in our rooms in isolation. But God calls his people to grow in love and care. This requires the sacrifice of comfort and time. For some of us, it may mean a season of fasting from media or games on our phones. For others, it may mean that we seek to occupy our time more wisely.

The ultimate model for us is Christ. He came. He lived and walked this earth. He did this to reach out not to a people who were good and just needed some moral encouragement. He did this to a people who were wandering away from Him. If God has so loved us in such a manner, let us also love one another in that way.