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My phone stopped working last week. Maybe this is why I’ve been noticing so many people are on their mobile devices recently.

  • The dad scrolling through newsfeed at his daughter’s softball game.
  • The guy in the car next to me glancing back and forth between his phone and the road.
  • The half a dozen tables of teenagers at the coffee shop with their friends—phones out, heads down, and fingers swiping screens.

Human beings feel a hunger for more, and this hunger is good. It’s put in us by God, and it’s meant to draw us toward relationship, toward fruitfulness, and toward God Himself.

Day to day, we’re tempted to bring our hunger to a million different places. And I think many of us are particularly prone to this temptation when it comes to the digital world.

The Internet gives 24/7 access to a truly astounding and ever-changing cache of experience, talent, humor, heart, information, personality, entertainment, and so much more.

Our devices can serve to help us connect deeply with others, do meaningful work, give cheerfully and generously, and develop and maintain spiritual rhythms.

It can also deliver a heck of a lot of competition to the real people sitting across the table and to God, too. He doesn’t promise on-demand answers or reprieve from life’s difficulties. In contrast, the Internet gives us a sense of tapping into something infinite, even though it doesn’t.

If you’re like me, you may often find yourself approaching the digital world in ways that get in between you and others, distract you from work, dimming your spiritual senses, spend time focused on things that matter very little to you (or perhaps things that matter but in ways that make very little difference whatsoever in the real world).

Being thrust into a time without my phone has been a good reminder that I’m a human being, made to connect not just digitally but physically.

My phone is working again, and I’m grateful. But I’m also keeping in mind Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians: “All things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

At the end of the day, my mobile makes a great servant, but a horrible master. I need Jesus within me to help me discern between the two and to use it wisely.

Question: How do you use your mobile device to help you live meaningfully? In particular, are there things you do to help deal with the temptation to misuse it? Leave a comment here.

Reconnecting,
Josh

6 thoughts on “Connected?”

  1. Lately I have joined a group of praying wives in Facebook. This has brought a new dimension to my marriage and I am grateful for it. But I can relate totally to what you said about the digital world being the wrong master and how sometimes what we accomplish digitally not making a difference in the “real” world. Thank you for nice again enriching my perspective.

    1. Sounds like your Facebook group is a great example of how the digital world can be used to create meaningful connections. It removes some of the limitations of setting up and getting to physical face-to-face meetings. I’m guessing it also means women in the group are posting in the midst of their day-to-day lives, which brings another (even perhaps more intimate) dimension to what is shared that’s different than when you gather together in a set-apart time and space like a small group. Thanks!

  2. About 3 months ago, during lent, I gave myself a rule of no social media or news during the day or after dinner because I knew it was affecting me negatively…. I chose to only allow for 15 minutes before making dinner. That was enough time to quickly check the main headlines to make sure the world hadn’t blown up and to catch any needed business connections and special news from friends on Facebook. At first it felt difficult but quickly that feeling was replaced by a sense of complete “lightness” and peace. I wasn’t carrying the minute-by-minute woes and competitions of the world with me anymore. Even that 15 minutes became something that wasn’t all that appealing any more. Now days go by without it but because of business, I can’t give it up completely. Josh- you are always profound and this line was dead on: “It can also deliver a heck of a lot of competition to the real people sitting across the table and to God, too. He doesn’t promise on-demand answers or reprieve from life’s difficulties. In contrast, the Internet gives us a sense of tapping into something infinite, even though it doesn’t.”

    1. That line didn’t come out of profundity, it came from my own struggles with my phone. Your lenten exercise with your phone sounds like it was really enriching to you, Larry. I can relate with the sense of “lightness”–I felt that last week when I was without my phone. Thanks for sharing this!

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