I’m a millennial. I’ve grown up right on the cusp of social media and smart phones, and I admit that I’m pretty hooked on it all. I remember what the world was like before all of today’s technology, but only barely. While it’s become second nature to have my iPhone in hand as I constantly scroll through one social media app after another, I don’t always think it’s the best thing for us.
Kaitlyn Schiess poses an important question in her latest post on Christianity Today: “Are Smartphones Making Christianity Too Convenient?”
“With each new app to download,” Kaitlyn says, “I began to wonder about the downside of the convenience demanded in almost every area of our lives. Innovation has come through again and again on its promise to make our lives more efficient. But with our high-tech expectations, has convenience become an idol?”
We have the Bible as an app on our phones, churches (like mine) have launched their own apps and even pushed social-media like sites for their members, ministries like Proverbs 31 have launched devotional apps for the first five minutes of your day, and we now find ourselves with phones full of faith-focused apps (and more).
On one hand, it’s amazing that we have this endless access to content and resources right in our back pockets. On the other hand, though, is it all becoming too easy and too convenient?
“There are clear perks to these methods, including the ability to reach people across the globe,” Kaitlyn agrees. “And perhaps the efficiency of these methods frees up Christians to go deeper into Bible study and evangelism. But I worry that our motivation at times is not ministry or mission, but convenience itself. Are we actually trying to make Christianity as painless as possible?”
Even my childhood Sunday school teachers taught that Christianity was never meant to be easy. I knew even at the age of 7 that a life of following Jesus would be hard and full of challenges, doubts, and questions. It’s the narrow road, after all. Our world, however, promotes instant gratification, constant connectedness, and easy access to anything and everything the Internet has to offer.
Kaitlyn reminds us that Jesus told us in Scripture that life with him would be hard. “In Luke 14, he warned his followers to “count the cost” of being a disciple. They had to decide for themselves if it was worth it, because it cost something. We can’t expect his truth to impact our lives if we try and minimize our time and investment in discipleship.”
Sure, there might be an app for everything, but is that the way we should be practicing our faith?
For me (like Kaitlyn also says), reading devotions or verses on my phone just isn’t the same as holding my Bible or a real book in hand. I love feeling the weight of it (both physically, and in my heart as well) and being able to interact with it more tangibly.
Kaitlyn shares a powerful statement: “Instead of letting technology shape the way we think about the world, we should let the way we think about the world shape the way we use technology.”
Focusing on our smartphones might be convenient, but I believe my walk with Christ is worth taking up my cross for, and that means making dedicated, meaningful time in my day to spend time with God. While my iPhone apps might connect me to great apps, I want to place a higher value on connecting with my community, family, and God himself offscreen.
For more on how technology and social media affect our lives today, check out these articles:
The Beatitudes of Social Media
On Social Media, Transparency, and Following Jesus
Rachel Dawson is editor of BibleStudyTools.com
Publication Date: October 23, 2015