Less digital, more spiritual
Updated: Jul 10
We are living in by far the most modern century of the world! Surrounded by rapidly advancing technologies, smart gadgets & devices, cloud powered lives, and artificially intelligent things, we stare and wonder at the exponential development of what was possibly not even imagined fifty or even thirty years ago.
The 21st century will soon see the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) that began with the pandemic. And the technologies that the 4IR will bring are nothing compared to what we have known, seen and used in the last twenty or two hundred years.
But, we, in the believing body of Christ need to take stock of the situation because while we are in this world we are not of the world (John 17:16). Even Christ has admonished us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16), God doesn’t want us to be fools in this world while we are in it but as we live in these times, we need to have a deeper understanding of things around us in order to derive strength from His word to tackle these technologies, tools. Therefore, we need to guard ourselves, our minds and bodies from the affects of using these technologies.
Let’s clear some aspects in regards to technology though; technology was in motion ever since God created man and ordained him to be the caretaker of Earth. All that man has created, is creating and will create is in full display (1 Chronicles 28:9) before our Lord. We were made to represent God on Earth through our saved lives and in this saved life, we carry out our lives with whatever skills, talents, and abilities He has blessed us with.
Technology is for us to use and it has progressed with time and there is nothing wrong with using technology but what is important is for what purpose we use technologies and how much of it do we depend on to run our lives - whether spiritual or natural.
Let us not forget that if it were not for the printing press that propelled the Reformation in the 15th century, we wouldn’t have heard of the Word. God has ordained everything at the right time.
But this century is unique because from the way things are developing as we trace world events, the pandemic narrative and the aftermath of it, it seems like we are moving closer to what the Bible has prophesied in both the books of Daniel & Revelation.
Almost everything seems to be plugged into the internet, almost everything is being powered by artificial intelligence, smart devices, and smart apps. The pandemic got us even more glued to the Internet, apps and a very engrossed, sedentary and indulgent digital lifestyle. While we might be excited and eager to see these technologies progress and help our lives, we need to also exercise caution in the way we use these technologies and for what purpose.
Modern life has become more convenient because of technologies and there is nothing bad about it. There are pros and cons to any technology and we need to have a better insight and understanding of it, its origin and affect on our spiritual life.
We know that excessive use of anything will always have adverse affects on our bodies with possible long term consequences. No one can deny that! Whether it be our eating habits, our addictions, even our sedentary lifestyle is due to the ease of technologies. We have also seen what the first industrial revolution did to the world three hundred years ago, and we are still feeling the after effects of running the world in an industrialised manner. All this talk about climate, abuse of the environment, degradation of forests and natural habitat are all interlinked to technologies and our lives.
The Earth belongs to God but we have a duty to live in respect and honour before Him which also implies being mindful of the Earth that we use for our dwelling. Just like we are being cautioned about the of our lifestyle and its impact on the climate, we need to also take caution about our digital life and its affects on our spiritual life.
The pandemic altered our interaction with technology, the Internet and our desktops/laptops/smartphones. Whether this alteration is irreversible or not, we will know very shortly once the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) is in full swing.
That we spend more time wondering about these technologies than look at Him through these technologies is something we need to rectify. Everything that we do - whether we work in the world or work for Him -, the glory goes back to Him.
Technologies of today are still an external feature to us - at least until they are made invasive - so we have complete control over how much of it do we want to use it or influence our daily lives. There is nothing technology can do that man cannot do without that particular technology. All technologies are premised on the original templates that God set forth when He ordained the world and the nature of our life on Earth.
Take for example, a telephone, it helps us connect with others over long distances and saves time in going there physically. Before the telephone, we had messages that were sent over by person, or by ships, and/or horses. Before printing became a global phenomenon, we had oral communication, symbolic gestures that was used to disseminate information. Before carriages, we could walk, before aeroplanes, we could take ships. Therefore, if you trace the origin of all modern technologies, it will have its roots within the framework of the created world ordained by God. Even the A.I robot that is being created is still based on the human body framework! The only difference that a technology brings is the aspect of 'speed'. But when you walk in the Spirit, it is faster than any 'G' network or the fastest connectivity offered to you.
But all of us need to discipline ourselves in the way we use these technologies in our lives. We cannot and should not let these technologies dictate our lives and thoughts nor should it influence us to large extents.
Our use of the Internet should be supervised by the Holy Spirit that guides us; what sites we browse and how much time we spend on the internet should be under our control in order to ensure a balance in our spiritual and natural life.
How much of our life is dependent on the smartphone? Do we use an app for almost every transaction and action of our life? Is there anything that you use the phone for that can be done without the phone? Perhaps alternate the reading of the Bible offline and online in a week? How much of our life on social media is spent, or wasted by ogling and browsing through other people’s profiles?
We cannot deny that we have become a heavily consumer based society - not even in the sense of buying products, but consuming digital data endlessly. Many youth today can spend hours binging on so much of content (online entertainment) that there is no end because data gets cheaper and cheaper and faster; a lockdown keeps them trapped at home, so they indulge more and more in absorbing more content but the ability to absorb what they are seeing and hearing is limited.
If we are not able to control our digital life even before the Fourth Industrial Revolution has spread its wings wide open, then once the 4IR takes over, it will be very difficult to reorient our lives.
The more time we dedicate to our digital life, the lesser are we depending on the Spirit that we need to renew our minds with everyday. The more time we give to consuming data of any kind, the lesser room we have to consume more of the living word and arm ourselves with the ‘sWord’ that we need in these times especially.
One divine consequence of the 2020 pandemic was the shift of the physical church to the virtual church by which many more lives have been touched and saved.
Anyone now sitting around the world has instant access to the Word being preached by thousands of teachers and pastors. But even here we need to exercise caution in how much time we spend online listening to multiple sermons or being exposed to a variety of interpretations that might end up weakening your faith. We should not be thinking of excuses to justify our dependance on a digital life but we should ask the Lord to discipline us, to bring to our remembrance - moderation & control - when we are using digital technologies without a limit.
Once you are able to discipline your digital life, you will see that your spiritual life is in such a dynamic flow that any new technology that is invented will not overwhelm you or influence you in such a pervasive way as before. Your Comforter will guide your use and moderation.