COVID-19, Technology, and Fear

This has been a hard season for everyone. With the COVID-19 quarantine and the mandated stay at home orders that most people are facing, care and communication are very important right now. How do we do that without being able to get out? Well, we need to rely on technology to help us during these times. But just like COVID-19  so many people are afraid or have a hatred for technology.

Besides being a Pastor, I  also work in the Technology Services department at a private College. I’m a pretty well-rounded generalist that works with a lot of programmers, developers, Engineers, and other analysts but I’m also front end facing and dealing with a lot of customers. When people hear this, they assume I a big techie person, or the “computer man” as someone from church called me recently. Computer man is varied vague, I wouldn’t really say that I’m techie compared to most of my coworkers. I don’t have an education in programming so I struggle with that at times. Programming language is almost like Greek to me, however, through Bible word studies I know Greek a little better.

Now when it comes to hardware or desktop support I’m a little more on top of, so I tend to pick up side hustles with friends and family for computer repair. This has opened doors for ministry time for me as well. One of my best friends and spiritual mentor, recently paid me to tune up his mother and laws computer. We get together pretty much on a weekly basis,  to talk about life, faith, and whatnot, so we have had many conversations about technology. Over the past few weeks, its been a little harder to get together. This is the norm for right now. I’ve been trying to help him utilize tech more to disciple with others. So my friend had this revelation a while back that I think is perfect for this time to share, about how we have these “apps and programs running in the background of our lives. Slowing us down and taking our focus away on important things”

To help the non-techie reading this, there are programs and utilities that run in the background of every computer and phone. Some of these programs are necessary for your system to function. Others may be malware, adware, or malicious programs designed to hijack your computer or personal information. Some might be cool programs that are not bad per se, such and games or the Bible App, but left open can slow your computer or phone down and even drain your battery. This is when we have to kill some programs to speed things up so it’s working at its best. I think we have a lot of things in our life slowing us down and draining us. I hate to make this post sound anti-tech, but that is not what I believe. Technology is not good or bad, it is a tool, it is to be used with discernment.

I believe that technology is a gift from God and the way we are using it to communicate with people, Livestream church services, and race for a cure for the Coronavirus.  It is apparent that God created humankind with incredible and creative abilities, an ability that can be used to produce art, music, literature, and technology. In fact, our technological creativity might be directly attributed to the fact that we ourselves are created in the image of God, the Creator. Technology has been an integral part of human cultural activity throughout history. We must understand this and need to be aware of it, to comprehend its nature and to recognize the role it plays in culture.

The Bible tells us of about a number of technologies, some used for good and some for evil:

  • Cain built a city (Genesis 4:17)
  • Noah was directed by God to build the ark. Using God’s direct instructions, Noah designed and built this complex structure. (Genesis 6)
  • The tower of Babel was a monument to man’s sinful pride, which led God to confuse the languages. (Genesis 11)
  • Abraham and Isaac dug wells. (Genesis 21 and Genesis 26)
  • Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God to build the tabernacle “with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Exodus 31:3–5)
  • Aaron fashions an idol in the form of a golden calf using a tool. (Exodus 32:4)
  • King Solomon builds the temple in (1 Kings 6)
  • The Psalmist examines human reliance on technology: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
  • Jesus uses technology examples in the Sermon on the Mount and other parables, such as:
    • houses in the story of the wise and foolish builders. (Matthew 7:24–27)
    • city gates (Matthew 7:13–14)
    • cities and lamps (Matthew 5:14–16)
    • fishing nets (Matthew 13:47–50)
    • oil lamps (Matthew 25:1–13)
    • coins (Luke 15:8–10)
  • Paul communicates with the early churches by letters (which are then copied and distributed)
  • Paul speaks of the armor of God in Ephesians 6
  • History begins in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8) but ends with the Holy City (Revelation 21:2)

What might we conclude from the Bible’s treatment of technology?

So these might not be technology in the form of computers, but as you can see the trajectory that we are on, was leading this direction. God even commanded some things like Noah and the ark and even using Bezalel in Exdocus to design and construct the Tabernacle. We also see Idols being made, weapons to kill people, and prideful people thinking they can actually build a tower to climb up into the heavens to be face to face with God.

Creating images has been around for thousands of years, and cameras have been around for a good while. My wife (www.haleyjohnsonphotography.com) is a gifted photographer who has captured beautiful moments for many people. The technology used for her camera has allowed her to be a blessing to others, to capture birthday days, maternity, newborns, family gathering, etc and even to glorify God. The same technology has also been used corruptly for porn and adult entertainment. To remove technology because of the evil it “can” be used for, would mean to destroy the good.

We can solve many problems using technology, and yes, we can also create new problems with that same technology. Even technology with great potential for good can be abused. It is easy to fall into this utopian perspective toward information technology, tending always to look first to technology solutions to human problems. Sometimes we find ourselves idolizing technological solutions to be our savior for moral and spiritual problems. At the same time, it seems that we are equally prone to a dystopian view of technology—that is, we can start to assume that little good can come from computers. In such cases, we are often guilty of demonizing technology without sufficient cause for doing so.

We should not have to pick a camp between these two extreme views. We can accommodate the paradoxical nature of it, just like our lives are broken and is also in the process of being completely renewed by God. Let us be both realistic and hopeful as we consider technology in the light of our faith. We should put our trust in God, not in Technology. During this time, we are plugged in more so than ever, and it is helping us stay connected in these times, I once again bring my friend’s revelation about our spiritual app. What do you have running in the background? Is it slowing you down or helping you glorify God? Is it a distraction or idol, or are you using it to be a lamp shining bright in your city? Let this time when we are in quarantine from everything be a time that you also connect deeper with God.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7


Father God,

We come to you as our creator, who has given us wonderful and creative minds. Help us to not be afraid in this world that we live in. Give us the discernment to use the tools that you have allowed us to create, for good, and not for wicked purposes. Let us spread light and love and not be apart of fear and darkness. Let us create beautiful God-honoring things, that bring glory to your name!  As the Psalmist in Psalm 20 said “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” let us trust in the name of the LORD our God and not place our faith in our technology. Father, give us the heart to see your presence in all things.

In your Son, Jesus’s name

Amen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s