Can a Smartphone Be a Spiritual Tool?
Tony Reinke, author of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, carefully examines the blessings and challenges of technology in our lives.
If you live long enough, pray earnestly, and keep your focus on the imperishable Word of God, you can be spared the slavery to newness. Over time, you can watch something wonderful happen. You can see overweening fascination give way to sober usage.
You can watch a toy become a tool; a craze become a coworker; a sovereign become a servant. To cite Tony’s words—and his aim—you can watch the triumph of useful effciency over meaningless habit. I wish I could give every young adult the taste of eternity that grows more intense as you enter your eighth decade.
A happy consciousness of the reality of death and the afterlife is a wonderful liberator from faddishness and empty-headed screen-tapping. I say “happy consciousness” because, if all you have is fear, your smartphone almost certainly becomes one of the ways you escape the thought of death.
But if you rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because your sins are forgiven through Jesus, then your smartphone becomes a kind of friendly pack mule on the way to heaven. Mules are not kept for their good looks. They just get the job done. The job is not to impress anybody. The job is to make much of Christ and love people. That is why we were created.
So don’t waste your life grooming your mule. Make him bear the weight of a thousand works of love. Make him tread the heights with you in the mountains of worship. If that sounds strange to you, but perhaps attractive, Tony will serve you well in his book. Where else will you find the iPhone linked to the New Jerusalem? Where else will someone be wise enough to say that “our greatest need in the digital age is to behold the glory of the unseen Christ in the faint blue glow of our pixelated Bibles”? Where else will we hear fitting praise of Bible apps along with the honest confession that “no app can breathe life into my communion with God”?
Who else is writing about the smartphone with the conviction that “the Christian imagination is starving to death for solid theological nourishment”? And who else is going to confront the presumed hiddenness of our private sins with the truth: “There is no such thing as anonymity. It is only a matter of time”? Yes. And the time is short. Don’t waste it parading your mule. Make him work.
His Maker will be pleased.
Foreward, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, by Tony Reincke