The Role of Media in a Christian Life - Part 2
By Chris Henderson
Each part of this series is designed to be a stand-alone post; however, if you have not read part 1 of the series and wish to, just click here. We said, "Houston, we have a problem."
In this post, we will look at four principled solutions to dealing with media in our everyday lives. Then in part 3, we will make practical applications of those principles. If controversy is your bent, then you may want to wait until you part 3 to pick up reading.
Principle 1 | Be salt and light
Matthew records a great sermon preached by none other than Jesus himself. Just after the famous "Be Attitudes" in Matthew 5, Jesus drops a truth bomb on digital media. You may have never noticed it before, but it's there. Verse 13-15 says,
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
There you have it, ladies and gentleman.
Too often we become "good for nothing" because we forget that we are still Christian, even online.
Mary Aiken has written a WHOLE BOOK about how and why behavior changes when we are at a keyboard or tapping the screen of a device. It's worth the read. Jesus challenged us long before the release of a gaming system or social media to let our "light so shine before men" but the WHY is what is so important.
So principle 1 is pretty simple, BE SALT AND LIGHT.
Principle 2 | We must be owners OF technology, not owned BY technology.
Failure to realize this will result in the enslavement of an individual to technology.
At some point, it is very likely that we have all fallen prone to "shiny new toy syndrome." We define ourselves based on what we have or do not have. This materialistic mindset of who we are is often rooted in being owned by technology (even though we may not possess what owns us). This mindset is in direct contradiction to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:12:
"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."
It is obviously not a sin to own a smartwatch, gaming system, or computer; however, too often we find ourselves idolizing the status associated with the new toy.
When we allow ourselves to be brought under the power of technology we have become owned by technology.
I teach a class at Indiana Bible College entitled Introduction to Electronic Media. This class is both a practical approach and theoretical approach to dealing with media in the church. I often start the semester by telling to students that I want to convince them that it is possible to live without a smartphone. Most look at me with disbelief, others with raised eyebrows, but the principle that I am trying to stress is this one. We must be owners OF technology, not owned BY technology.
Principle 3 | See both what can media (technology) DO and what media can UNDO.
Everyone has heard the talk on perspectives before. You see the glass half full, another sees it as half empty. There are always two sides to every story, and on the list of sayings goes. I do not see many people having this conversation with regards to media and technology. It would seem that something so pervasive would surely be on the radar. What are the effects of this new phenomenon on our minds, our hearts and ultimately our eternity?
There is a term I would like you to consider. Societal cognitive dissonance. Societal cognitive dissonance happens when people (society) are aware, or know (cognitive) that something is both good and bad (dissonance). In our case, it's technology. I can hear the arguments now, "I can FaceTime with almost any person in the world. How is that a bad thing?" Do not misunderstand what I am saying; I love being able to talk with my family that does not live near me! Remember, I never said it was bad, only that it wasn't all good.
Where societal cognitive dissonance is present people tend to forget what is bad in light of what is good; but, what if the thing that is wrong with technology causes us to part with something we are not willing to? We should have at least thought about it.
We will discuss this principle more in the next post. In the meantime, trust me, it is imperative that we see not only what media and technology can DO but also what it will UNDO.
Principle 4 | Steward your time.
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." The application of this principle alone will revolutionize your life with regards to media consumption. Paul is telling the church at Ephesus (and the rest of the world throughout time) that if we fail to redeem time, then we are foolish. Those are tough words considering the pull we face into media and technology at every level. Media that too often is trivial.
I do not think that this principle needs further explanation, but it will be fun to make practical applications of this one (and all the others) in the next post.
Until then, I want to leave you with a quote concerning technology,
"We all need to be a little less complacent and a little more disruptive."