Are we becoming Gollum? But instead of a Ring, we are obsessed over a Phone? People everywhere are forever hunched over their phones. Caressing it. I can almost here them, “My precious…”
The average American spends 4 hours a day on the phone. We touch our phone 80+ times a day. Let’s call it what it is: ADDICTION. We are device junkies. I say, we, because I put myself squarely in the middle of this mess. I am equally enslaved. A modern take on Luke 16:13 might be: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other. You cannot serve God and your iPhone.”
I am not a luddite. I’m not saying we throw our devices into the fires of Mordor. I’m just asking you to ask yourself: Does my device control me or do I control my device?
Quick test: put your phone in a drawer and leave it there for one day. Try to leave your house without it! Can you do it? I know exactly what you’re thinking: “What if there’s an accident or emergency?” You’ll be ok. If there’s an accident, someone will have a phone. It may even be the reason there was an accident in the first place.
It’s not the device. The device is neutral. “For the love of devices is the root of all evil” (sorta 1 Tim. 6:10). Its what we do with our gadgets that matters. I am using mine right now and hopefully for good. However, if its taking the place of God in our lives, then we need to step back and reframe. Do we use it or love it? Are we using it to be a positive force or a negative one? “Let your texts be always full of grace” (quasi-Col. 4:6) or “Let no unwholesome tweet come out of your devices, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who follow you.” (Eph. 4:29-ish)
The devil is tickled pink about all this. Every second we spend on the phone is less time engaging others with the Gospel. He loves to distract us with shiny things. We are such easy targets. Its hard to be agents of reconciliation with our heads buried deep in self-made comfort bubbles. Its impossible to be effective Ambassadors if we can’t look up from our gadgets!
Gut check: place a pad of paper next to your phone. Every time you touch it, make a checkmark. Note the times you are on it. Then make a column and do the same thing with your Bible or prayer. Don’t get all legalistic about this and try to earn God’s love. We are motivated by Grace not guilt.
The first step is admitting there is a problem. We got a BIG problem here. And worse: What kind of future are we creating?
We’re not full-on Gollum yet. But its coming. There’s still some Sméagol in all of us. I hope.