Defy the Digital Carnivore!
The Digital Age launched unofficially in 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. Followers of Jesus face a daunting new reality. Our attention has been captured by our devices – our smart phones, iPads and computers. We might be tempted to think that these digital tools work for us. We might think that we own these products and that they work for us. Not so fast, my friend! They don’t work for us; we work for them. Our attention is the product. Our attention has been sold to the smart people who design the platforms and apps which we carry in our smart phones. These apps are intentionally engineered to steal your attention AND your money!
When was the last time you purposefully left your phone at home? When did you last leave your phone in another room? We can’t put them down. I’ll speak personally. I can’t put mine down. I start shaking if I leave home without my phone. My phone is an extension of my humanity. (Feel free to laugh!) It gets worse. The clear, net impact on our lives is HURRY. We live at a frenetic pace. We are endlessly “attacked” by the digital forces that grab our attention and send us racing down a path of multi-tasking. Our load has overwhelmed our ability to bear it. HURRY kills spiritually, health, marriage, creativity. HURRY kills just about everything we hold dear.
The Digital Carnivore has robbed us of the capacity to live in the present, the here and now.
You want to know where Jesus lived? Jesus lived in the moment, in the present. He was fully present to his Father and to the individuals standing in front of him. Look for yourselves in the Gospels. Read. Does Jesus ever try to schedule someone for lunch next Thursday because he’s too busy today? Jesus kept a full schedule of important things, but Jesus was NEVER in a hurry.
How do we Defy the Digital Carnivore?
We face this new “enemy” with old practices – the classical spiritual disciplines. Here is a partial list: prayer, Bible reading, fasting, journaling, connecting with Christian family, quiet, meditation, sabbath keeping. Watch Jesus carefully. He kept these practices. These are The Way of Jesus. We defy the digital carnivore by building into our lives a way of life that models Jesus’ way of life.
We defy the carnivore when we “abide” in Jesus. You are familiar with John 15, the vine and the branches. Jesus is the vine. You and I are branches. It may seem counterintuitive, but your job as a branch is NOT to bear fruit. Our job is to stay attached to the vine. The spiritual disciplines keep us attached to Jesus, the vine. Don’t worry about the fruit. It comes. It’s the natural by-product of a healthy, attached (“abiding”) branch.
Are you sick of it? Are you eager for a new way of life? Start now. Your best next step? Do 3 things. 1. “Parent” your phone. Put it to bed before you go to bed and leave it in its “room” in the morning until you’ve had your time with God. 2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. Get up and add one of the spiritual disciplines listed above. 3. Tell a fellow Jesus follower about your new practices and ask that person to visit with you about your experience and to hold you accountable. Talk weekly.
Jesus can’t wait to relieve us of the overwhelming burden of HURRY. Abide in Him. He will shoulder the heavy load.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Give me the courage, gracious and loving Father, to admit to you that I live a frantic life. I didn’t plan on it, but the truth is I am all but addicted to my phone. I admit that my attention has been on my busyness and anxiety. I am overwhelmed with my pace of life, and I realize it is not the way of Jesus. I repent. Thank you that You forgive me. I want more of You. I want to live in intimate closeness to You. I want to live in your Presence. I will build a new way of life. I will spend time with You, and I will invite a friend to join me in this new way of life. I love You and I will “abide” in you. In Jesus, AMEN.