Monte Hunt – Associate Worship Pastor
Before we dive into today’s topic, I ask you to view the subject matter through two preliminary lenses. First, this is a discipline with which I personally struggle. A master at this practice I am not; but I am aware, and awareness is key to improvement. Second, people are moral – things are not. Things are amoral, or without morals. It is people’s intent, word, and action, which apply morality to an object, tool, resource, etc.
The modern day smartphone is an amazing feat of engineering. A telephone was once a tool used to communicate directly to someone who was not in your immediate area. Now the device we call a phone is used as a telephone so sparingly it’s a wonder we still call them phones. Today’s typical person manages their entire life through their phone: it is their wallet, datebook, social intermediate, weatherman, banker, gaming console, music player, secretary, publicist, and on and on. It is truly amazing (and scary) that our worlds, and our world, have become both literally and figuratively ruled by a device that fits in the palm of our hand.
What is equally amazing is the advent of these devices came about just ten or so years ago. And the explosion of the phone’s social media capabilities is younger still. And yet, at times it is difficult to remember life before this era – before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.
So I’d like for you to ask yourself some honest questions. How much time do you spend each day on your phone? How many times each day would you say you check your phone? Here are some shocking statistics:
- The average user will check their phone between 100 and 150 times daily.
- Peak times are between 5pm and 8pm, when people will check it up every 6 seconds.
- The average daily time spent using a phone is 90 minutes.
- This equates to 23 days a year, and an average of 3.9 years of the average person’s life…
…spent staring at a screen. And this does not include television viewing, computer work, etc. Not the most flattering news, right?
So what am I getting at? That phones are evil and we need to go full-on Amish? Not at all! What I am saying is if we are not careful, we can easily become dependent upon this amazing tool, and it’s capabilities can have an unhealthy grip on how our lives are structured. Remember what Paul said to the church in Corinth:
“Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be controlled by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Your phone is a tool. I encourage you to use it as such, and nothing more. And if you honestly feel it is controlling how you operate, you need to take necessary steps to reverse course and regain control. Talk to someone you personally respect for advice on how to do this.
An equally important point is this: God designed you and me for community. After all, God Himself is three-in-one. And since we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we must also possess this innate desire for one another. Think of it this way: your most cherished and pure memories – did they occur in the virtual world, or in community with real people? (Okay, I’ve been party to some pretty epic group texts, but that aside you get the point…) God wired us to need each other, to find true joy in Him and in each other. The early church knew this, lived by it, and as a result grew by leaps and bounds.
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to community, to eating together, and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
We all have fallen prey to the seemingly innocent temptation to get out our phone when a conversation stalls, or when we are in a room full of people we don’t know, or when we simply don’t have another alternative move. Today, the phone check is the default action to inaction. I get it. So let’s challenge the status quo. Be weird. If you are in a group of people and they are all on their devices, be the one who isn’t. Simply observe the world around you if that is the only option. Or strike up a random conversation. You never know where it will take you.
A wise person once said: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except the people you meet, and the books you read.” It is people and their words that truly affect us. Be aware that every moment you have with people is a chance to make yourself and those around you better. And here is a sobering thought: every moment you and I spend on our phones in the midst of community is a moment we could be missing something truly amazing. You could be sitting next to your would-be best friend, walking by your future spouse, or allowing the big career break you’ve been searching for pass you by.
Your phone, tablet, laptop, and television are all tools – tools for work – tools for play. Enjoy them! But do so wisely and remember God made you for more than this. He made you to live in such a way that brings heaven to earth and to do it in community.