We live in a very exciting time of history! It’s been said that five great revolutions have taken place in history. The first great revolution was ideographic writing. An example of ideographic writing is Egyptian hieroglyphics. The second great revolution was alphabetic writing. The ability to write changed everything.
The third great revolution was printing. Gutenberg invented the printing press in the fifteenth century. Books suddenly became available. The fourth great revolution was film and video. The fifth great revolution is the digital revolution. The invention of the computer brought great change.
We live in a digital age. The average American checks their cell phone every 4.3 minutes. That is 81,500 times per year! Facebook has 2.3 billion monthly users. Youtube has 1.9 billion monthly users. I enjoy my cell phone, lap top, desk top and smart devices. However, these things must be our tools and not our masters. There are two great dangers in the digital age.
The first great danger is substituting the essential for the nonessential. Substituting the profound for the trivial is not good. The more distracted we become the more displaced we are spiritually. The internet is one constant interruption. Click. Click. Click. Click.
As a boy growing up in the 1970’s there were several minutes between commercials on television. In this internet age our attention spans have become shorter and shorter. I am not a Luddite. The Luddites destroyed machinery in the Industrial Revolution. This is a great time to be alive. We have tremendous opportunities. We must be very careful to focus on the profound and the essential.
The Christian faith is based on disciplines. In Matthew 4 the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. He meditated on Scripture. He focused on the Book of Deuteronomy. He spent time in prayer. For hundreds of years Christians have practiced these disciplines. Do you and I still practice them today?
Reading Scripture, prayer, fellowship and service are the backbone of the Christian life. Today fellowship (face to face relationships) is being replaced by social media. In Romans 1:11 the apostle Paul told the Roman believers, “I long to see you….” There is no substitute for real life relationships in the Christian life.
A second great danger is pride. Perhaps a defining characteristic of this age is the selfie stick. In previous years it was considered strange to carry pictures of yourself in your wallet. Who has not read a Facebook post that began, “I want to thank God for giving me such wonderful children who have a 4.2 GPA!” Even exercise apps often end with an offer to share your amazing achievement with friends and family through social media.
The apostle Peter helps us with the problem of pride. We all struggle with it! The Book of 1 Peter teaches that suffering precedes glory. The way up is the way down. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Pride results in God fighting against us. Humility results in God fighting for us.
Peter shows the path to humility. Verse 6 says, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.” Overcoming pride is found in submitting to the authorities in our lives. Let’s be honest- we are rebels. We don’t like being told what to do. We don’t like government or bosses or even church leaders. A first step in overcoming pride is coming under authority.
Peter continues, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another…” Another step is to do the most menial of tasks. The word clothe speaks of the menial tasks. Can you guess which event Peter had in mind when he wrote these words? Jesus the night He was betrayed took the clothing of a slave and washed His disciples feet (John 13:1-20). The very next day He paid the price for our sins on the cross.
Humility results from coming under authority, performing the most menial of tasks and third, accepting God’s providence. Peter said, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you…” Life does not turn out the way we expect. God is orchestrating events in our lives for His glory and our highest good. Trust Him by accepting His providence in your life.
The digital age is amazing. I do not want to go back to an earlier, simpler time. However, this is also a dangerous time. We must never substitute the essential for the nonessential. We must not exchange the profound for the trivial. We must build spiritual disciplines into our lives. Also, we must guard against pride and walk in humility.
Ethan Hansen is the pastor at Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.