Sometimes I'm afraid that if the Rapture happens in our lifetime, we'll all be caught up while on our iPhones.
If you don't have that particular brand of wireless appliance, it doesn't matter. Through any cell phone device—or iPod, iPad, YouPad—you name it, we are more caught up in technology everyday. Still, I don't believe that God will text message or post an advance Twitter "Tweet" about the Second Coming.
Remember that the Lord has already used old technology to "message us" about His return, with everything we need to know already posted in the printed Scriptures.
Don't get me wrong here. New gadgets aren't necessarily bad, but if our focus is everywhere but on the things that matter most, maybe it's time for some questions.
Let's start with distractions. Is it a problem when not a spare moment passes without the urge to check something online or a text or voicemail? I've admitted in past columns that I love the new high-tech stuff, and yes, I recently got an iPhone. I am amazed at all of the new applications, or "apps," and fresh access to information. Recently I discovered that a daily devotional I wanted to read this year had an app of its own. I ordered and started using right it away—during a church service.
OK, I felt a little guilty about that but rationalized that it was God's work being used to grow in my personal walk. Besides, I did the ordering while the pastor was doing announcements, not during a sermon. I was still listening… really. I can also access all sorts of Bible translations and paraphrases on my phone, so I think I have some cover concerning this admission. But checking Facebook and Twitter during the offering is probably a stretch to try to excuse.
I'll also admit that once or twice during an especially powerful church service, I've posted a blurb to my Facebook friends suggesting they link in now to watch our local worship and message online. I tell myself it's outreach, and it does get into a wide world of my 4,000-plus contacts. But it's probably best to do such things before getting to the service. And not while driving.
The great distractor
Creating distractions in life has been a technique of Satan's since the time of Adam and Eve (Hey look, an apple!) Those who claim to be untouched by technology can still fess up to other issues over the years.
Taking notes can be a diversion, too.
My best journaling also involves occasional doodling, but is that so wrong? As my mind is stimulated by a lesson, I also have thoughts arise about other projects and ideas. I jot down notes about those items, too, so I can refer to them later and get 100 percent focus back on the message. That's an old-fashioned "analog" experience, and one that admittedly can sometimes be a distraction.
We may get irritated when little kids come to church with parents and seem to spend all the time drawing and coloring bulletin pages, but they are still hearing the message. As a kid who did that growing up in the Midwest, I can still recall some points pastors made back then, even if I didn't know all the big words.
How many times have we found our minds drifting off during church to other "environmental" concerns? Here's a partial list:
"The auditorium is too hot... or too cold. That spotlight shines in my eyes. The choir is too contemporary this morning. The music is too traditional. The pastor is talking about something that doesn't concern me. Uh oh, he's talking about money. This chair isn't comfortable! What's for lunch after church today? Why is he now getting into THAT verse? Has he seen my diary? How does he 'know'?!?!"
Chances are you're now letting your mind wander away from focusing on my writing as you consider other examples. But you get the point.
Let's go back to my occasional rationalization. I have talked myself into believing that multi-tasking every possible moment makes me concentrate better, becoming more productive. Maybe this is true, but at times it's just fine to be still, listen, focus and remember God is bigger than all the new contraptions and web knowledge.
As new generations come along, more people will find carrying a Bible in book form to be rather quaint. Some younger people already are more comfortable reading anything and everything off a phone, computer, Nook or Kindle instead. It's generational, so maybe we should get used to it.
There are already more than 500,000 apps available for my new phone. That's exciting and overwhelming, and certainly not all of them are free.
The thought of this reminds me of the greatest 24/7 connection we can still make, directly to God through Christ.
And we don't have to pay for an app for that.
Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. He can be heard daily in San Diego on KCBQ 1170AM from 6 to 9 a.m., and on KPRZ 1210AM from 2 to 4 p.m. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Published, February 2012