Since those first brick-like mobile phones appeared in the 1990s, technology has transformed all our lives. Computers and smartphones bring a world of information and entertainment to our fingertips. Social media lets us interact in new ways, and medical technology improves our health.
But technology can also be harmful. It takes advantage of our sinful hearts, fostering our greed and our lust. Tragically, it can lead vulnerable people into abuse and self-harm on a scale that wasn’t possible before. And our devices can be addictive in themselves. The boss of Netflix has admitted that his TV shows are competing with our sleep, while the billionaire owners of social media companies limit their own children’s access to the internet!
On Saturday 22nd July we were delighted to welcome Adam Thrift, from All Saints Crowborough, to help us think through these issues from a Christian perspective.
Technology is all about re-ordering raw materials to serve our purposes. And our unique purpose as Christians is to love God and love our neighbours (Matthew 22:37). So we should be asking how our devices are helping or hindering us in this purpose. How does your phone help you love God and your neighbours, and how is it stopping you doing that?
It was also helpful to consider the promises that technology makes. Whether it’s Elon Musk’s mission to Mars, or teenagers wanting to be influencers, technology usually promises happiness, convenience, and even eternal life (if you freeze your brain!). But the promises of technology will ultimately let us down. In Psalm 20, we’re warned not to trust in chariots and horses – the cutting edge technology of the time. But the promises of Christ are wonderful and reliable! He’s forgiven our sins, and promised us an eternity as children of God. What more could we want?
Technology is good, but we must guard against it becoming an idol. And seek help if we’re unable to switch off. Adam wrapped up the evening with a helpful twist on the famous words of Robert Murray McCheyne. “For every one look at technology, take ten looks at Christ!”
If you’d like to explore this topic in more depth, why not read “God, technology and the Christian life” by Tony Reinke. “The tech-wise family” by Andy Crouch is also full of practical advice for parents. Many thanks to Adam, and to Ruth McElhone and the 20s-30s group for organising this event. Do let us know if there are other topics you’d like to explore together!