Technology1 is all around us, and it’s not just the electronic devices we are all familiar with today. The scriptures tell us that God is a creating God. Having been made in His image, He gives us the ability to be creative and advance continuously. “…I have called and I have filled [Bezalel] with the spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”2 Whether by our work in a given field of expertise, or in using a computer or smartphone in education, or for recreation and anything in between – we must recognize that our intelligence and our ability come from God alone. Along with modern technology’s myriad of benefits comes the responsibility of stewarding our abilities and actions for the glory of God.
It is not our belief that we should avoid advancements in our society out of fear of the unknown. On the contrary, we believe as God told Adam in the Garden, “…fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…over every living thing…”3 Christians should take full advantage of Sovereign giftings to live a life that glorifies God and draws others to Him. At the same time, we should be vigilant because the enemy seeks to kill & destroy.4 Since the days of Adam and Eve, the enemy has sought to distort God’s words and disrupt His plan. Paul tells the Church at Corinth to be cautious because satan disguises himself “…as an angel of light.”5 We too should take heed lest we allow what is not inherently evil to become so. Technology has resulted in many benefits to lives throughout history but has also brought along with it destructive effects when it has been taken to extremes or misused. Scripture is our ultimate source for guidance in living, but it does not give a list of specific do’s and don’ts for advancements in and uses of technology. Each of us need to apply the truths of scripture to our lives with discernment and ascertain God’s direction regarding the pursuit and uses of technology individually and within our family and community.
Benefits of Technology:
Over the past few decades, the use of the word ‘technology’ has morphed to include all things digital & electronic. In what was formerly rare (owning a computer with Internet access) is now commonplace – access to the world in the palm of one’s hand. All but gone are the days of using a road atlas while on a family vacation or losing contact with a family member or friend who moves across the United States or even the world. We no longer wake to the newspaper on the doorstep informing us of the prior day’s news, events, and tragedies.
Thanks to continuous advancements:
- Scripture translation occurs more efficiently than ever, and in addition to print form, electronic and audio versions are being distributed. Juan, who speaks Chipaya, came to know Christ because of an audio version of the Bible in his native tongue.6
- A pastor living outside of his country’s capital, given that he has internet, still has vast options for biblical training and support in his desire to grow.
- Farmers are able to work more efficiently with greater results.7 Advancements in agriculture are also helping rural communities in Africa better understand how to use their natural resources to maximize their crop yields, leading to a healthier population and income for communities.8
- In the medical field, the impact is vast. Whether by virtual doctor visits, robotic surgical procedures, or data collection,9 advancements have helped ensure efficiency and improved care.
- Families who no longer live down the street or in the same city can touch base using one of a myriad of video communication software options. This same technology has revolutionized the world for those who are deaf, who can now use the phone in a similar vein as a hearing person.
Potential Negative Effects of Technology:
In the books of Kings and Chronicles, we see story after story of individuals and people groups who became apathetic and introduced the worship of idols in place of God. We should take heed of anything in life that detracts from our relationship with God. Extensive value and focus placed on our title, our trade, or on the Earthly benefits of either can lead to destruction. James admonishes us to be cautious against the sin of neglect and omission.10 As such, if our craft, our calling, or our propensity toward all things digital/electronic become greater than our relationship with Christ, we would be wise to take action toward change.
Some examples of technology pitfalls might be:
- Scripture, sermons, and educational materials are more available in digital forms, but with the increase in quantity, there is an increased need to discern what is true.11 We must be on the lookout for false teachers and extreme ideologies that used to be isolated and seldom heard of but are now readily available. We can also forsake being connected to a local church body in exchange for only listening to popular teaching online.12
- Food is produced in greater amounts and more efficiently due to advances in science and harvesting, but the continued goal of higher yielding crops has led to issues with pesticides, deforestation, and doctoring of crops to an extreme level that can have negative affects that are only realized years later.
- Vaccines and medical advances have helped increase life expectancy and eradicate countless diseases, but medical advances have also led to drugs and procedures to abort babies. DNA advances help to identify potential risks, but have also been contemplated to create designer babies.
- The internet and social media have help connect us and allowed the sharing of stories and information with other across the globe, but if overused can result in feelings of isolation and disconnecting from more life-giving, personal face-to-face relationships. Some results are online facades and negativity in the form of cyberbullying and alienation because of one’s beliefs. Regarding how online habits have transformed us, Tony Reinke states in an article entitled Constantly (Dis)connected: “The deceptive imprint of digital culture trains us to prioritize what can be easily deleted.”13 Simply put, many today do not know how to have meaningful conversations with other people without an electronic device between them.
- Additional threats can be seen in the increased availability of pornography and potential invasion and destruction of our privacy. No longer does one have to go out of their way to find illicit pictures/material. Whether via an internet browser or an app, erotic content can be accessed by anyone. Online bill payment and shopping has allowed confidential information to be stolen by criminals, posing constant security issues. Our Supreme Court has also dealt with cases involving major technology companies, which allegedly used their customers’ data for reasons beyond the services they were contracted to provide.
Guidance on Living
As with anything in our broken world, we must be cautious of the seemingly ‘good’ things that have the potential of becoming an idol, taking priority over God in our lives. Paul reminds us in Romans, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life…”14 We are called to be different from the world in which we live. As Christ followers:
- We should be on the cutting edge of developments in using the giftings God has granted us as far as creativity and knowledge are concerned.
- People should see us approach challenges in life with a different perspective. We are not given to hysteria based on vitriol in our world today; rather we are to be known for our compassionate hearts.15
- We should conduct our lives in such a way that points to an eternal purpose; indeed, we are set apart to be different. Whether connecting with our neighbor down the street or with a friend around the world, our interactions, the words we use, and the manner in which we use them should be life giving.16
Trusting in God’s sovereignty, we know the challenges and frustrations involving technology are no surprise to Him. As such, we should not fear technology, but rather give thanks for the gifts God gives in the form of knowledge and skill that allows technology to continually improve. We should not conform to the world’s ways, but rather live in a way that grows us more and more to look like Christ, our Savior.17 At Fellowship Bible Church, our desire is to use the creativity of God through technology to glorify Him and His purposes in every way possible. However, we also guard ourselves against making an idol of technology and its propensity to distract us from investing in the things of God and those made in His image.
FOOTNOTES: 1 “Technology.” From the Greek: tekhnologia is the systematic treatment of an art, craft or technique. “-logy.” a speaking, discourse, treatise, doctrine theory, science. etymonline.com Online Etymology Dictionary, 2019. Web, 23 Aug 2019 2 Exodus 31:1-5 3 Genesis 1:28 4 John 10:10 5 2 Corinthians 11:14 6 https://www.wycliffe.org/blog/posts/the-repentant-atheist 7 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2016/12/31/take-a-look-at-how-technology-makes-smart-and-sustainble-farming/#378990a63deb 8 https://organics4orphans.org/o4o-model/ 9 https://www.geospatialworld.net/blogs/how-technology-has-changed-the-world-of-medicine/ 10 James 4:17 11 2 Peter 3:16b; 2 Timothy 4:3-4 12 Hebrews 10:25 13 https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/constantly-disconnected 14 Romans 6:13-14 15 Colossians 3:12 16 Proverbs 16:24 17 Romans 12:2