Thursday, March 5, 2015

During Lent Consider: Are We That Addicted?

     Trust me...I love my IPhone, IPAD, IPOD and MacBook.  I have been a techno Mom from the word go and now I am a techno Grandmother as well.  However, there are some issues that concern me about all our wonderful gadgetry.  As I was driving home the other day, I had a very close call.  Another driver began drifting into my lane causing me to nearly run off the road.  They corrected their vehicle just in time and guess what?  They were glued to their cell phone like their life depended on it.  I took a deep breath and thanked the Lord for His protection.  These types of incidents are not isolated.  Nearly every day, I see people driving their vehicles with a cell phone seemingly stuck to their face.  Can't calls wait until they arrive home?  Don't they have a voicemail that will allow them to return the call at a better time?  I understand emergencies and the need to connect when something has happened, but often, there is no urgency to the phone conversation.  It is something that could have waited for another time.  However, what was even more surprising to me was something I witnessed at a recent conference.
     When my husband and I attend any gathering of Christians for the purpose of fellowship around the Word of God, we turn our cell phone ringers off while the speakers  are presenting their talk.  A
couple of years ago at the Ligonier Conference, we were amazed at the number of people who came to the sessions with their cell phones on.  I observed a fellow texting during the entire presentation by a speaker.  Another person worked on his laptop.  I admit I had my IPAD, but I was doing some note taking on it so I could review what the speaker said following his talk.
     Quite frankly, I think I must be old school.  I grew up without cell phones, IPAD's, laptops, and even computers.  I actually learned how to sit through a talk and take lots of notes so I could remember what was said.  Now that I have and enjoy using the modern technology...I still take notes and listen carefully to a speaker.  I have to wonder, though, are we that addicted to technology that we cannot sit for an hour and listen to a speaker without checking our email, playing a game or texting a friend?  Will the world self-destruct during the time we are not on the "NET"? 

     In Scripture, we see a similar scene being played out in the life of the disciples.  They may not have had electronic distractions, but they were not able to watch with their Lord and Master as He prayed in the garden.  Mark 14:32-41 describes the scene:  "And they went to a place called Gethsemane.  And He said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.'  And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.  And He said to them 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.  Remain here and 'watch'" (vs. 32-34).  What transpires next is His heartfelt cry to the Father concerning what He was to face; yet in the end, He yielded in perfect obedience His will to the Father's.  Verse 37- 41 describes what happened next:  "And He came and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, 'Simon are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not come into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.  And again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.  And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him.  And He came a third time and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come.  The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
     Jesus had made a simple request for His disciples to watch and pray with Him.  He was in deep turmoil over what He would have to face.  However, three times in a row, He returned to find them asleep.  This occurred right after Peter had protested that he would never deny Jesus even if it meant he had to die with him.  Would we do any better than these disciples?  I do not think so.
     Some at the conference we attended could not even sit one hour to hear a speaker without clicking away on their cell phone to send text messages or "tweet".  It made me wonder why they had spent the time and money to come when they seemed so far removed mentally from what was being said.  I had to wonder if, indeed, technology and electronic gadgetry is displacing God?  Are we becoming so attached to it that we do not have time to concentrate on a church service, conference speaker or musician?
     Obviously, I love the internet and the ability to communicate with people all over this world.  It can be a marvelous tool for reaching others very quickly.  Nevertheless, it can also be an addiction and temptation that keeps us so preoccupied that we do not have time for God and His Word.  I am as guilty as the next person for wasting my time in fruitless game playing, or some other activity.
     Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray that they may not fall into temptation.  He further reminded them that the flesh was weak even though the spirit was willing.  This holds true for us as well.  We need to take some time to evaluate our use or over use of our electronic devices.  Certainly, this is especially true while we drive.  In addition, we also have to keep in mind that a face to face encounter with another human being is far more effective than just sending them a text message.  Our goal should be to spend quality time first with the Lord and second with our family and church family.  Nothing is as meaningful as that.  A text message cannot give a hug.  An email cannot replace a smile, and a phone call cannot connect as well as an eye to eye conversation.  Lets keep these things in mind the next time we attend church, a Bible study, or a Christian conference.  May we be watching for Jesus and praying for  His soon return.  Selah!

Picture courtesy of  K Ballard on Wiki Commons

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