Last Sunday I had the privilege of sharing a message on faith and technology at my home church, Chatsworth Baptist Church in West Norwood, London. You can listen to the recorded audio of the sermon here and/or enjoy reading my written summary of the message below.
Technology is a tool
Technology is a tool and like any tool it can be used for good or for bad. A knife can be used for cooking, a hammer or axe for building, but both can be used for harm. The tool has no morals or values, it is the user that brings their morals and values to the use of that tool. This is the same with technology.
The psychologist in me makes me understand another aspect of the use of technology as a tool. Anything that we use creates or exerts a degree of change in us, whether we realise it or not. For example, when you constantly use a pen or knife, after a while you may see an impression on your hands and fingers. Similarly, our use of technology creates impression marks on our minds which primes us for future activities, decisions, habits, expectations and relationships.
So indeed, how we use technology is important but we must acknowledge that our use of technology changes us. Some of these changes are great particularly for advancing God’s kingdom, however they are not without drawbacks.
Changing Technology, Unchanging God
From everlasting to everlasting You are God — Psalm 90:2
But You remain the same and Your years will never end — Psalm 102:27
These verses from the Psalms remind me that technology changes but God remains constant. Psalm 90:2 lets us know that from everlasting to everlasting God remains God. He does not change with the times, He is not in need of updating like some of our mobile phones and He does not require an upgrade like the phone companies entice us to. He does not change because it is not in His nature to change. From eternity to eternity; from an indefinite past to an indefinite future, He (God) remains the same. Moreover His word never changes. Isaiah 40:8 says ‘the grass withers, the flower fades but the word of God will stand forever’.
Technology for communication
The most common use of technology is in communication. Communication technology has evolved quite rapidly over the years. Here is a list of all the ways that I could think of to show how we previously communicated and currently communicate with each other:
- Pen (ink) and paper
- Town crier
- Phone-lines, Mobile phones
- Wireless communications and so on!
I’ve heard many say that technology is incompatible with living a Christian life. However, we cannot ignore that God has placed us in a technological age, and this is where we have been placed to be ministers of reconciliation; for such a time as this.
We are privileged to have this text which is the Bible simply because people used the communication ‘technology’ of their day to share God’s word; tablets of stone, paper and ink .
In the same way people are doubtful of the use of present-day technology to share God’s word, I imagine would be the same way that people in the time of the Bible may have questioned the use of paper and ink to communicate God’s word, as information was generally passed orally.
The Apostle John and many others moved with the communication of their time , yet He highlights a key drawback in 2 John 1:12 where he says, ‘I have much to write to you but I do not want to use paper and ink, instead I hope to visit you and talk with you face-to-face so that our joy may be complete’
He is comfortable using paper and ink but carefully acknowledges that written letters are not as good as, and do not replace face-to-face communication and fellowship.
Similarly, the technology of our day can be used to further the gospel and share God’s word and goodness but it will not, and cannot bring the completion that comes through fellowship with believers face-to-face.
So what does technology offer?
Technology offers us an advantage like never before to share the gospel, because you can meet the culture where they are at. In Corinthians Paul writes ‘to the Jews I became like them to win them over and to the Gentiles I became like them to win them over’.
There are so many who have come to the faith through the use of technology and therefore we cannot negate its influential use and power. However, we must appreciate that though our methods may have changed, the message remains the same.
Guidelines about using technology
There aren’t any prescriptive guidelines about using technology to grow in our faith. However, the Bible gives us wisdom that can be applied to all situations, which is, ‘whatever you do, do as onto The Lord’.
Proverbs also tells us that life and death are in the power of our tongues. In this case, I implore you to regard that life-and-death are in the power of our hands, in terms of what we write. (Listen to my short spirit charge devotional on Premier Gospel titled ‘Twitter Fingers’). You must assume that everyone everywhere will read what you write and see what you post because you are sharing to believers and unbelievers.
Review your use of technology
I’ll end this message with a suggestion of ways that we should and should not be using technology, in the hope that you will review your use of technology. My advice is based on my experience, conversations and research.
- Use technology to read the Bible, get the Bible app, access devotionals, godly blogs, websites and the daily audio bible.
- Regularly share the Bible. Share verses to your social media platforms and use wisdom in sharing it as part of broadcasts on platforms such as WhatsApp.
- Do not use technology to send chain messages, along the lines of ‘share this with 7 people to be blessed and avoid a curse’ etc. This is poor stewardship of the gift that God has given us and it does not serve others well. It harms our witness and has no biblical justification or authority. My daily audio bible read this scripture yesterday “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” — Proverbs 26:28. I’d like to think that we do not ‘hate’ those on the receiving end of these chain messages, however, the bible is clear in that whenever we ‘lie’ or spread mendacious information, we are ‘hating’ our neighbour…deep stuff!
- You are still you ONLINE and OFFLINE. You will be accountable for every action whether in person or online. Watch your words because what you say matters. Be ONE person. Don’t let it be said of you that you are one way online and another way in person.
- Follow, support and share edifying pages but you must be mindful that there are so many unbiblical messages via technology, that you must remain rooted in The Word of God to discern what is true and worth of giving your mind to.
- Technology should not replace face to face fellowship but it can and should enhance it. Technology is not an excuse to become a full member of ‘bedside’ baptist.
- Be careful not to fall into Idolatry. Take regular breaks from technology because it is very easy to make a good thing a ‘god’. Remember that every time you use technology it is changing you and you may fall into the trap of loneliness, inadequacy and falsehood because of an overuse of technology and underuse of community!
This blogpost touched on one aspect of technology and faith, which is the use of technology to share the gospel and strengthen our faith. I recognise that there are other aspects of technology which interfere with our faith such as the use of technology in aiding those experiencing infertility or the use of technology in medical health, plastic surgery and so on. Perhaps these other areas will be explored in a separate post if I feel knowledgable enough to share on these sensitive issues.
I do hope you enjoyed reading this. Remember that you can listen to the audio version of this message which also includes a Q&A section where I answered some of the questions posed by the congregation at the end of the sermon.
Share your thoughts in the comments section and continue the conversation by sharing this post on your social media platforms.
With love, K x