August 19, 2018

Clear and Present Danger 10: Technology

Passage: Psalm 26

We live in what has been called the Information Age or the Digital Age. With the introduction of the personal computer in the 1970s, and with subsequent improvements and innovations, we now have more access to more information, through our digital devices, than ever before. With the advent of the computer, Internet, and smart phone, access to new forms of information, communication, commerce, and entertainment have grown immensely.

Access to information, communication, commerce, and entertainment through digital devices has its blessings and its curses, its pros and cons. Like never before, we have almost instant access to all the information we could ever desire. We can communicate around the world in a millisecond. We have access to GPS, hours of music, podcasts, videos, HD camera, contacts, news, Skype, and thousands of apps. Many of us use these tools regularly and find them very helpful.

How did humans ever get along without computers, the Internet, and smart phones? These technologies have so integrated into our lives that we can hardly imagine not having them. Young people don’t know a world without these technologies; they perhaps can’t imagine a world without them.

Technology can be a very good thing. I enjoy staying connected to family members, old friends and colleagues through digital connections. We can stay up to date with our missionaries. We have Bible study tools like never before. Technology is a tool, and tools are good.

However, along with all the benefits of technology are some serious threats. That’s what I want us to consider today—the spiritual threats associated with personal digital technology like smart phones, computers, and the Internet.

If we were to define technology, we could say that technology is a tool we can use to shape the world. A shovel is technology, as is a hammer, a frying pan, a TV, or a laptop. Modern technology is usually electronic, and much of it connects to the Internet. But it’s still just a tool. And like all tools, electronic tools can be used for good or for evil.

The Bible expects us to use tools to change the world. God gave the first humans the commission to subdue the world and have dominion over everything in it (Gen 1:28). As image bearers of God, we have the ability to invent tools and technologies to bring the world under our control. Manipulating the world through tools is not a bad thing; it’s part of God’s intent for us. Technology and appliances bring us huge conveniences that former generations never even dreamt of. E.g., microwave ovens—how would we ever pop popcorn without microwaves?

Just like every other good thing God has provided, sinful man has corrupted and defiled what God originally intended for good. Digital tech is subject to a fallen, broken, perverted world. Sinful man inevitably employs good things for bad purposes. Technology is both friend and enemy.

Therefore, we should have a healthy and discerning suspicion about the things available to us through the use of technology. We should ask ourselves, What will the use of this technology do in my life? How will it affect my walk with God and my relationships with family? Do I own it or does it own me? How am I responding to it?

Use of a shovel or a microwave oven generally does not have many moral implications. But use of modern digital technology, especially access to the Internet, has huge moral implications. So we have to be careful with modern tech because it has the power to influence us far more than we may realize.

This is an important topic because many of us use technological tools. We use computers, smart phones, and the Internet. We are exposed to the various dangers I’ll be talking about. And the Bible addresses many of these issues—not technology itself, but the values associated with or affected by the technology.

The main point I want to make is that we must be careful and wise in our use of technology. We need to do some serious reflection and consider the threats that technology could be to us.

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