Why might we be addicted to our phones?
This past weekend, I attended a Glory conference featuring Jackie Hill Perry who wrote the just published book, Holier Than Thou. Besides amazing worship, Jackie gave three talks on the holiness of God, idolatry and sanctification. In her talk about idolatry she made the comment, “Social media makes us feel like God.”
This made me think of the first recorded temptation in the Bible. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
We have always liked the idea of being like God.
Holy means “set apart,” so since God is holy, there is no one like Him. For example, only God is omniscient, which means God knows everything. Jackie pointed out we can start to feel omniscient when we feel like we know what’s going on with everyone and everything. Social media can make us feel that way, can’t it? And if we don’t know something, we Google it.
Phone in hand.
On the spot.
We can find the answer.
Also, only God is omnipresent, which means God is everywhere. We can start to feel omnipresent keeping tabs on friends and family all over the globe.
Don’t know where your child is?
There’s an APP for that!
We can know where people are.
I had fun taking a few of Jackie’s comments and doing some further thinking. Only God is omnipotent, which means He is all powerful. When my son called several weeks ago as I was leaving work to tell me our house flooded, I had a damage restoration company on its way by the time I pulled in the driveway.
I thanked God for taking care of me. I was so grateful, but might we be tempted to feel extremely capable and in control with all the capability a phone offers us from the palm of our hand?
With a GPS, I don’t get lost anymore.
We can think we have things under control.
But here’s the thing. God is the Creator; we are created. By definition, we are limited and we are supposed to be! We were built with a need for connection and purpose that was designed to find fulfillment in God, but instead we seek counterfeits that are “limited, local and lifeless.”(JHP)
The phone can deceive us into feeling like God.
Don’t believe me? What happens when you lose your phone? It’s like losing an arm, isn’t it? A few weeks I took my son’s car to a car wash to clean it as a surprise. While vacuuming, I closed a door and locked myself out. There I stood staring at my purse, keys and phone on the passenger seat.
I borrowed a man’s phone (who was unbelievably and generously kind). Then I stood there trying to remember my husband’s phone number, son’s, or daughters’. My first thought was there might be a spare key at home that someone could drive to me. I knew NONE of the phone numbers, only the last four digits of each. My phone remembers them, so I don’t have to, until I have no phone!
I then googled AAA and called for assistance. “Can you show your ID to the driver when he arrives, ma’am?”
“Yes,” I answered, “after he unlocks the car and I can retrieve it from my purse.”
When I was told there would be a two-hour wait, I thought, “No problem, I will take a walk and get a drink at the nearby RaceTrac.”
Suddenly I was who I always am.
I am always an extremely limited creation of God. Yes, I bear His image, but I need God to empower me, care for me, give me wisdom and meet my needs in order to be authentically strong, capable, resilient and to live a life that reflects His character.
I am nothing without Him.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
A phone has no life of its own. If we leave it on a table overnight it is still there in the morning. It can’t move. To make it more important than it is means the phone becomes an idol.
The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?” (Isaiah 44:19)
Jackie asked us:
- How do you spend your time?
- What do you spend your money on?
- Who do you call for peace?
- What makes you unrighteously angry?
And I re-asked myself a question I thought of a few weeks ago at church: Do I spend more time scrolling than reading my Bible?
Idolatry is anything more important to you than God — Tim Keller
I am reminded this week that each of us smart-phone owners can be fooled into thinking we can know more than we do, can do more than we can, and can be in more than one place at a time. In truth, all any of us has is a tool that is limited, local and lifeless without our use. Take our phones away, and then we know once again,
Only God is God.
Picture Explanation: The conference was great. Attend one when you get a chance.
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