Now that I have a smartphone, I love being able to check my e-mail anytime, anywhere. I enjoy posting pictures and announcements to our church’s Facebook page, so people can see/read all the great things we do as we’re doing them. Although, I still forget that I have the whole internet at my fingertips for those times you say, “Oh, what was the name of that guy from that movie?” But it’s nice to know that almost anything I want to know or anyone I want to contact is just a few taps away.
But does that super-connectedness make us view life differently? Or even view God differently??
I read a thoughtful article by a youth minister, who wonders if all our great cool technology is unknowingly affecting our faith. It’s not unusual, when people are asked how their relationship with God is going, for them to say that they don’t feel close to God anymore. But I wonder if it’s because we assume everything–even God–should be easily accessible for us and on-demand all the time.
If you’re interested in reading more about this, check out these articles and studies about the impact technology has on both relationships and religion: The Barna Group, Pew Research Center, Hartford Institute for Religious Research, and The Atlantic.
An MIT professor gave a TED talk called “Connected, but Alone?” that explains the change she sees in people’s understanding of the self these days. Basically, instead of “I think, therefore I am,” it is now “I share, therefore I am.” In other words, we express and define ourselves by what we share online. She writes in her book that without this ability to be constantly connected to our friends through texting and the Internet, we begin to feel isolated, almost as if we don’t exist.
So that’s one factor. The other is that so many of us have heard and even said, “Jesus wants to be your friend” or “Jesus is my best friend.” But then people today will think (consciously or not) “If Jesus is supposed to be my friend, why can’t I keep in constant contact with him like my other friends?”
The article I read asks, “I wonder if the most important Bible verses for us to articulate theologically aren’t those which speak to God’s immanent presence, but those which speak to God’s theological absence?” Good question. There’s a lot of Bible verses we skip over that cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long?”
We forget it was years before God fulfilled his promise to Abraham and Sarah with the birth of their son, Isaac. Abraham’s descendants also spent years in oppression in Egypt before God decisively acted in partnership with Moses. Later, they were left contemplating on the shores of Babylon whether God would liberate them again.
Waiting on God was hard during biblical times, so imagine how harder it is now that we’re used to contacting people anywhere in the world whenever we want to, and finding an answer to a question whenever we think about it. But God is too deep and mysterious for that.
Connecting with the Creator is both easy and difficult, quick and yet life-long. We need to remember that communicating with God and being blessed by God happens over the long haul and that God is bigger than the instant gratification we’re accustomed to.