The Role of Media in a Christian Life - Part 3
By Rev. Chris Henderson
So here we are. The final installment of this series on how Christians should approach technology and media. If you have read previous posts and come along with us in the journey, I applaud you. If not, no worries! In Parts 1 & 2 of this series we pointed out a problem and discussed principles solutions. (If you want to catch up click to read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. ) Now we are going to apply those principles and see how they play out everyday in Christian life.
Principle 1 | Be Salt and Light
Numerous studies have pointed to the science of the chemical reaction that happens in our bodies when we receive positive feedback from social media. We share a post. We get INSTANT feedback. We feel that because people respond in a positive fashion (or a negative one) that we have worth. It is easy to fall for the trap that technology will help you find WHY you exist. Technology can never help you find who you are. Remember, you are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. With this in mind I offer the following applications:
-Be consistently Christian.
Let's talk about who we allow where. Video conferencing is no longer for the business world only. Your mobile device has the power to live stream, video chat (I am telling how old I am simply by using this term), or otherwise allow people into your life. As Christians we have to be as 'wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.' This absolutely means that if you would not physically be in a situation with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend that you should seriously consider (if not avoid) being in that situation virtually with them. Let's make it plain. If you would not have that person in your room, with the door closed, at 3 o'clock in the morning, then you should not be FaceTiming them in the same situation.
Let's talk about talk. James 3 says that sweet and bitter water cannot come from the same fountain, likewise we cannot proclaim Christ and those things which are anti-Christ. What we say/type matters!Be consistent.
-The internet is forever.
News stories abound with people who have lost their job because of a tasteless post or act captured and posted. A growing number of colleges are now researching applicants via social media. Post (and share) with Christian caution. Ask yourself, how will this reflect on my walk with God, my church, and my ministry?
Let's end the application of principle 1 with a quote. This quote is not original to me but fitting nevertheless, "Be good to your future self."
Principle 2 | Owners of Technology Not Owned by Technology
To illustrate this application I should start this application with confession. I do not own an iPad. When I tell people who know me this fact they are often puzzled. I should follow up with another confession though. I would like to have an iPad. Armed with the knowledge of these two confessions I would like to remind you that recently Apple Inc. announced a new 10.5" iPad complete with all the latest processing power and display technology. The day after the announcement a coworker asked, "Did you watch the keynote for Apple?" I replied that I had not.
Principle 2 prohibited me from watching it. I know Chris Henderson better than anyone on earth. I knew that if I took the time to watch all that COULD be I would be consumed by the desire to purchase an iPad.
That is the practical application of principle 2. We have to be able to understand how we can be consumed with technology and all the flash it offers. Marva J. Dawn has a great quote in her book, Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down.
She says, “We certainly cannot be totally without the media, since our schools and offices and peers engage in their use, but we must maintain a critical distance, become equipped with skills for making wise choices about their use and keep our consciences finely honed to reject what is an obstruction to God’s way of life and his purposes and meaning for us."
Well said Marva, well said.
Principle 3 | Seeing What Media (Technology) Can Do and What Media Can Undo
In part two I made the following statement. "Where societal cognitive dissonance is present people tend to forget what is bad in light of what is good." Allow me to practically apply this to a media most people are actively engaged on, SnapChat. For those who are unaware of what this platform is just google "what is snapchat?" I'll wait.
Now allow me to introduce a term. Related stimuli. Related stimuli occurs when one's senses reminds them of something not related. Check out the short video below.
That is about the best way I know to describe related stimuli. It changes who we are. What we want to be. How we think.
Now I have got myself wondering; what relation is there between SnapChat, a Finding Nemo clip, related stimuli and principle 3.
The progression goes like this: Christian gets on SnapChat, Christian accidentally swipes to the "Discover" section. This is the section that houses all of the articles that SnapChat thinks users should know about. The articles are primarily photo driven, but there is text included. Topics range from sports to society, with titles like, "Slim Khloe wants more cleavage", "Can the Cavs Repeat?", "45 Reasons We Love Katy [Perry]!", "POV [point of view] Porn for Women". Related stimuli plants an unchristian thought into Christian's mind (a thought that would have never arrived if we remained away from the app). Any number of thoughts could be planted but there is a recurring theme in all of them, they are anti-Christ. They do not edify, nor were they sought out. The thought was happened upon.
As Christians we should actively guard ourselves against the onslaught of sin in society, yet too often we trudge blindly ahead with no consideration for what reaction there will be to our action.
The point is this: we must be able to see what media (technology) can do and what media can undo.
Principle 4 | Steward Your Time
I offer you a challenge. Research what has consumed most of your phone's battery life. Most smartphones will calculate this in the settings. Just look for the word battery. This information will offer unbiased data on how you use your device. I am going to share a piece of me with you. Below is a screenshot of my battery usage from a few months ago.
Whew. That was nerve racking. The internet can now see how I used my phone that day. For some reason, it is a very personal thing. I almost feel the need to explain why each app has used so much power! Instead of boring you I will just press on and finish.
Remember, as Christians we are commanded to walk circumspectly. Not as fools but redeeming the time. We must set strict limits on our consumption of and involvement with technology. The practical application is equally as strict. With this new data, we may have to delete apps that are consuming our time. We may see that social media is ruling our usage, or that the three minute round happened six times in the last day. We are then faced with the question, "Is that HOW we want to spend our time, or would it be better spent some other way?"
These are questions that only you can answer. The applications of these four principles made here are are few among many. It is my prayer that this series caused you to pause and reassess your view of media and technology.
Comment below to share an application you have made of these principles in your own life.