“Generally, my feeling is towards less: less shopping , less eating, less drinking, less wasting, less playing by the rules and recipes. All of that I want in favour of more thinking on the feet, more improvising , more surprises , more laughs.”- Musician/ composer Brian Eno
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Electronic spirituality –is using resources like the computer and the Internet for the sake of the SOUL-can be practical at times.
When the spiritual need of the moment is INFORMATION, computer driven resources will usually provide more information and present it faster than any alternative.
For example , if you need a BIBLE and don’t have one with you, being able to read the electronic text from a screen is a great blessing. Other than extreme circumstances like this, however, pull the plug on electronic spirituality.
(2) .MINIMIZE ELECTRONIC SPIRITUALITY
In general, Christians engage in electronic spirituality in two broad ways- individually and interpersonally.
When individual believers pursue their devotional practices of Bible intake and prayer by means of a computer or the Internet. Note that I am distinguishing between devotional experiences and study.
While book based study has its advantages over electronic processes, admittedly there are times when the accessibility and speed of electronic tools argues for their use in Bible study and other research.
It’s not surprising for people accustomed to doing almost everything else in front of a computer to practice their personal spiritual disciplines there too.
I know , for instance , of believers who are committed to communing with the Lord in private each day, but do so after getting their daily Scripture passages and other devotional readings emailed to them or after the text pops up automatically on the computer screen morning by morning like electronic manna.
REMEMBER: that a daily time of worship before the LORD is the seeking of a PERSON, not just INFORMATION.
In these moments the Lord bids us, as in
Psalm 27: 8 “Seek my face,” not mere facts.
• We come to these times to relate to our God, not to a machine.
• Can’t we relate to God through words on a screen as well as through words on a printed page?
Yes, we can, for the power is in God’s Word, not in the format by which it is read, but I question whether it is either easier or simpler to relate to God through an electronic device than otherwise.
Dealing with a computer answers the phone instead of a real person,” we complain.
Why, then especially since we have other means available , would we want to use such an IMPERSONAL means to relate to the most important PERSON in our lives?
When your individual spirituality becomes more dependent on TECHNOLOGY, your devotional experience can be DERAILED by HARDWARE CRASHES, software glitches, connectivity problems, power failures, and other technical contingencies. And besides the ordinary distractions when trying to meditate on the text of Scripture or focus on the Lord, doing this in front of a screen also subjects you to the distractions of INCOMING EMAIL and other sounds or messages produced by your computer.
QUICKER COMPUTER SPEEDS and FASTER INTERNET CONNECTIONS DO NOT UPGRADE INTIMACY WITH JESUS.
Despite its allurements or convenience, electronic spirituality does nothing to improve individual spirituality that cannot be gained by simpler means.
A website recently that promoted itself as an “Online Church”.”.
• It claimed to provide opportunities for worship and fellowship, “just like a local church”.
Such “churches” position themselves perfectly for current trends , according to American demographics, for “approximately 16 percent of teens say they will find a substitute for church experiences online within the next five years. Net spirituality is already the choice of 10 percent of non Christians and 14% of Christians.
Let’s think first about Online worship.
While watching a church worship service may be a blessing for those who cannot attend, watching worship can never replace the experience of assembling and participating with other worshippers.
Online worship produces observers of worship, not participants
The spirit of worship in Scripture is not,“ Let’s watch worship,” but …
“I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord,”
3 O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
Those who do actually worship simultaneously while watching online still remain separated from the spiritual experiences that only those present can enjoy.
• The temptation to do other things during the slower parts of the service or sermon, like checking email during the offering , distracts the online observer in ways that would never occur to those immersed in the actual worship gathering.
The BLESSING OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP cannot be successfully digitized either.
While we can benefit from a kind of fellowship with other Christians via the Internet, the exchange of nothing but disembodied words makes it only a kind of half- fellowship.
Friends, I thank God for the technology that enables me to stay in touch so easily with fellow believers I know around the world, but that’s not all the Christian contact I need.
FELLOWSHIP that is only ELECTRONIC and never PERSONAL is not TRUE FELLOWSHIP.
The apostle John was inspired to tell us,
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren”
I John 3:14
In other words, one of the ways we gain assurance of our salvation is by measuring the strength of our love for our Christian brothers and sisters. And like any other love, this love cannot be content- no matter how many emails it receives – to love only at A DIGITAL DISTANCE, for there are some aspects of Christian fellowship you just can’t DOWNLOAD.
MINIMIZE electronic spirituality, and simplify your spiritual life.