IS OUR TECHNOLOGY MUTING OUR PERSONAL HUMANITY?
At a specific time in history, God put on human form as we might put on an overcoat. He came in a form we can understand. He heard the cry of our heart for revelation and said, ‘This is what I’m like.’
In today’s world, however, many people are robbed of the chance to discover God even during this Christmas season. They are offered a bit of historical information about the manger scene without the glorious revelation of why He came. So often information triumphs over revelation. This gives rise to a society that is built on technology without truth.
The major claim to acceptance of any new technology is that ‘it works’. Technological development is based on pragmatism, on getting practical results. We buy into new technologies because they give us helpful new techniques for doing everyday things.
Traditionally, technologies came into existence in response to human need. Tools existed because we needed them. We accepted new technologies because they clearly made our lives better. In our time, though, many new techniques exist only because the technology is there to make them possible. In other words, the technology often runs ahead of our ability to decide if it is helpful or not!
In many cases, there is very little discussion about where technology is taking us over all, or about what specific technologies might mean to our basic humanity or our environment. At the moment, for example, there are not too many people who think that human cloning would be a good idea, but few there are very few realists who do not foresee a time when it will not be happening at some level.
Technology thrives on pragmatism and that’s fine, up to a point. We generally love it when we find gadgets that will do things better, faster and more economically. Yet pragmatism on its own can sometimes work against truth. The Bible puts it like this:
‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.’ (Proverbs 14:12)
Sometimes a man-made solution to a problem may seem to work, but it may lead to spiritual and even physical ruin down the road. Only revelation can provide the objective bedrock on which we can base healthy debates on the moral implications of technologies like cloning or gene therapy.
Of course, new technologies have brought with them some great benefits. To say, as some Christians seem to do, that we should fear technology just because it represents change is ridiculous.
Industrial technologies, for example, have enabled us to produce more. In the 1800s, one farmer could produce enough food for about four people. With machinery and fertilizers, one farmer can now produce enough food for about one hundred people.
More recently, information technology has begun to dramatically change the way we buy and sell and even the way we form relationships. Many of us have come to rely on our PDAs (cell phones, tablets and laptops). For us, they’re more tools than toys. We’ve already seen amazing things, but information technology is still only taking its first baby steps.
With all the desirable effects of technology, though, there are obviously downsides. Environmental pollution and the depletion of natural resources are good examples. Fossil fuels are being used up at a rapid rate and freeways, factories and junkyards clutter up the landscape.
Some psychologists and sociologists are now talking about a new phenomenon they call ‘technological alienation’. The word ‘alienation’ simply means a sense of powerlessness and estrangement. The rapid growth in our reliance on technology does sometimes contribute to alienation between people groups, by, for example, boosting the advantage one group or nation has over another (the technological haves verses the have nots).
In some ways, there’s an even more dangerous kind of alienation — alienation from ourselves. At the most fundamental level, what we are facing today is, in many ways, a battle between our technology and our humanity. There’s a tug of war going on between what we feel in our conscience to be right and what is made possible by modern science.
Jacques Ellul wrote that technology has taken over from Christian faith as the most sacred thing in our western society. Once we couldn’t live without God, but today we can’t live without gadgets.
We’ve invited technology into our workplaces, then into our homes, and now even into our bodies. Before long, medicos will be able to inject tiny robots (‘nanobots’) into your blood stream, to help heal you of your ailments.
Many people today live as if they take it for granted that our technology can, at least in time, meet all our most important needs. But can it?
In the natural world, the principle of entropy says that any natural system left to itself, without any outside energy source, tends to wind down. If I take a kettle of water and plug it into an electric socket and turn it on, it will gradually come to the boil. Once I turn off the power, though, it quickly cools again. Its energy winds down.
It’s the same with us on a spiritual or moral level. Without a constant input of revelation, of truth that is based on God’s character, we tend to sink toward the lowest common denominator.
Without revelation, we will go on making the same mistakes as we have always made. Only as time goes by and our technological power grows, we will make those mistakes on an even bigger scale.
Revelation does not work against technology; it helps us keep technology in check. It helps us ensure that technology remains our servant and never becomes our master.
So as you engage in the Christmas season, giving & receiving, loving & laughing and eating & treating remember to take the time to download some biblical revelation and put your personal technologies in their proper place. Enjoy the human interaction and ponder the divine revelation of why He came and maybe you will receive something truly meaningful to text, tweet or blog about.
Act 4 – Scene 1
This is a massively encouraging passage for anyone who thinks they are not smart enough, don’t know enough or just couldn’t speak about Jesus either to those who confront you or those people who you know.
Having just seen the lame man healed in and through the name of Jesus, and Peter seen the crowds response he proclaimed the message of life found in Christ Jesus. Peter and John got arrested and put in custody until the next day.
Again amazing results occurred from the bold proclamation of the gospel, verse 4 states that it was about 5000! In a previous post I mentioned that we may need to re-think how we communicate the gospel but the message of Jesus is powerful. We must be confident in the good news and Jesus power to save.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Filled with the Holy Spirit Peter confronts his opponents and they are astounded as they are uneducated, common men! Once we realize boldness in witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus and his transformation in our lives is not about intellect but by being filled with the Holy Spirit who enables a real and living relationship with Jesus. They may have been uneducated but they had been with Jesus. When their opponents said this it was in recognition of that fact that they had literally been with Jesus just a number of weeks before this recorded event.
The key factor in sharing our faith is in being with Jesus. While we may not physically be in the presence of Jesus by the Holy Spirit he is constantly with us, in our best and worst moments. While it is important that we carve out time to read and pray it vital that we develop a life of prayer and practice the presence of Jesus in all our life.
“When it is natural for us to talk to Jesus, it will be natural for us to talk about him.”
Boldness is a result of sweet fellowship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit who reveals Jesus to us, as we grow in confidence of the resurrection power of Jesus at work in us bringing forth eternal life, we will also grow in boldness. Trust him!
Peter and John on their release went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and elders had said to them. They then all prayed this prayer…
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Maybe you could pray this prayer for yourself and other Christians you know.
Things you can do, get to know Jesus, by developing a habit of prayer and Bible reading (if you have an iphone, android or another kind of smart phone, you can get great bible apps such as this one http://www.youversion.com/mobile). Write out what Jesus had done for you and how you are changing because of Jesus. Seeing it in black and white can help it sink in!
Develop relationship first with Jesus through prayer and you’ll become unstoppable in wanting to talk about him with others.
One morning as Alfred Nobel was reading the newspaper, he was shocked to find his name listed in the obituary column. It was a mistake, but nonetheless, there it was. He was stunned to see that he was primarily remembered as the man who invented dynamite. At that time in history, dynamite was used in great effect for warfare. It distressed Nobel to think that all he would be known for was inventing dynamite, something that was used to take the lives of others. As a result of reading this mistaken obituary, Nobel decided to change the course of his life. He committed himself to world peace and established what we know today as the Nobel Peace Prize. When the name Alfred Nobel is mentioned today, dynamite is rarely the first thing that comes to mind. Rather, we think of the prize that bears his name. It’s all because Alfred Nobel decided to change the course his life was taking.
“For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 5:10
Another man, living centuries before, also changed the negative course his life was on. His name was Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. Known as a relentless persecutor of the early church, he was determined to stop the spread of Christianity. But after a dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road, Paul devoted the rest of his life to preaching the gospel and building the church. Today we remember him as a missionary, church planter, and author of 13 New Testament epistles.
If you were to read your own obituary today, what do you think people would remember you for? It isn’t too late to change your direction.
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Today scientists talk about the so-called Butterfly Effect. The theory goes that the wings of a butterfly beating in one part of the world can actually lead to changes in conditions many hundreds of miles away, even on the other side of the world. Everything in nature is, in some way, connected; every cause has an effect. In the same way, individual choices made by individual people – even insignificant people – can change situations and events, sometimes on a huge scale, and sometimes many miles away or many years into the future.
In John 12:3 we read about someones “butterfly effect”… ‘Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.’ (NIV)
There is no way that Mary, a forgiven sinner, could possibly have foreseen the impact her one simple act of devotion would have on people around her let alone the whole world over. How could she have known, when she walked into that room filled with hostile faces, that her simple but brave act of anointing the feet of Jesus would warmly touch the hearts of shame-filled people of every nation and race? Or that Jesus’ response to her would inspire untold millions to reach out for divine forgiveness, whatever their sin. If your heart is pure toward God, and you do what you do out of devotion to him, you may be surprised how big an impact it will have.
Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus, I love you. Please help me to set in motion good things, simply because I act out of humble devotion to you, with a heart of worship and love.’
These days, futurists represent a multi-million dollar industry. These people absorb huge amounts of information about the past and the present in order to suggest predictions about the future. They extrapolate forward to suggest how the past and the present may affect future trends. They charge large corporations tens of thousands of dollars to identify strategic possibilities that might help carry them forward. One leading futurist said this: ‘The important factor to realize is that we know very little about the past, a little more but not everything about the present, and nothing at all about the future.’ Actually, we do know one thing about the future: it is shaped by the choices people make today. The choices you make right now determine not only who and what you will become; they also have a bearing on the destiny of people around you – and especially people who look up to you. We are all carriers of the future, agents of change who leave the world different than how we found it – for better or worse.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ‘… All things are yours … whether the world or life or death or the present or the future– all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.’ (NIV)
Reading and applying God’s Word in our lives allows us to project a better future into our present, to set the train of our thoughts and values on a track that leads to a heavenly future. That is the basis of our unique hope: that is what enables us to strengthen people and point them to a better tomorrow.
Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus, help me today to set myself and others up for a better future, by living out the values of your Holy Word. I know that I am a change agent in this world – so help me to change it for the good, by lining up my actions with your Word.’