“Imprinted on your soul is the fingerprint of God. There is something inside you that resists surrendering your soul to legalism. The good news is that all that time it wasn’t you fighting against God; you were fighting for what God has created you to become.” Erwin Raphael McManus
This month, we are zooming in to some of the ways that various forms of technology impact our relationships and daily life. This series of blogs is called “You’re Missing Out.” We are focusing on the holistic nature of this issue and how we can specifically identify and combat it’s negative effects in our lives and families. You can check out parts one, two, three, and four here. Today, let’s talk about how our soul and spirituality can be negatively impacted by technology.
I love that quote above and the author that penned it. Erwin Raphael McManus wrote a book called “Soul Cravings” (which I hijacked for the title of this blog). It’s synopsis reads: “We can spend our whole lives trying to satisfy the one insatiable part of our being, our soul craving. Our capacity for spiritual experience both proves our need for something greater than ourselves and leaves us wanting when we fill it with anything but God.”
Wow. Isn’t that good? Hard and convicting… but good, right?
This summary identifies and calls out the tension we often feel when we spend too much time engaging in the use of things that cause us to prioritize the consumption of all that they have to offer above what a relationship with the God of the universe has to offer. Technology can be one of those things, can’t it? And the reason for pointing this out is primarily for protection because, let’s be honest… any void or craving that we have within us cannot be satisfied by surface-level affirmation in the form of “likes” and brief comments on our photos. Are these things “bad” or evil… of course not! Who doesn’t appreciate attention and encouragement? So, I am not suggesting that you or I need to sever our use of the internet and all of the ways we interact with the world online… but I am suggesting that we not neglect the life-giving relationship that we have available to us through Jesus by the over-consumption of technology.
Simply put, if technology of any kind were impinging on my relationship or causing me to compromise holistic intimacy with my wife- it would be the first thing to go! When we talk about our spirituality, we have to talk about relationship because that’s what God is all about- He is relational and desires unity with us.
One author has this to say on the impact that technology and social media can have on us: “What I mean is this; Facebook does nothing new, it just does it in a way that impacts more people, more quickly. You see, what drives Facebook is our desire to communicate – our desire for community – and it’s the same thing that’s driven much of our technological advancement” (Glyn Lucas).
This “desire to communicate” was placed inside of us by God and right before Jesus left the Earth, He gave us direct, VIP access to God by leaving us with His Holy Spirit. When Jesus tells his disciples about this gift, He makes this statement: “He [Holy Spirit] will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you” (John 16:14-15). So, no one can come to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). We have the Holy Spirit living in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). And, Jesus speaks to us through His Holy Spirit and all that belongs to the Father is His. So, we have direct access to the Father; we get to engage in relationship with Him and finally satisfy what our soul seems to crave in a manner that entertainment and technology cannot.
Check out this interesting quote from author Archbishop Demetrios:
“It is common knowledge that we live under a continuous “invasion”. Picture and sound invade incessantly, our mind and soul. Our senses are constantly attacked by impressions whose intensity sometimes goes far beyond our possibilities. This increased impact of visual and acoustic impressions is a result of technological advancement. TV, movies, advertising signs, traffic signs, the increased number of pictures and images due to our rapid means of transportation, radio, music in almost all the places you go, the noise of cars and airplanes, the mechanical noise of our home appliances such as heaters, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, elevators, laundry machines, all these raid ruthlessly our souls. The impressions are not static but dynamic, they suggest movement and excitement (take the noise of a racing car). Therefore, they not only whip the senses, they also capture the attention and sometimes cause a profound hypnotizing effect on the human soul.”
Our souls cannot afford to be hypnotized and invaded by technology that fails to satisfy what our soul craves. We must create boundaries and limitations to ensure that we do not end up withholding love in our relationship with the Father. We have to protect our relationship with God in order to maintain our participation in the expansion of light and love in this world! So, what does that look like?
Answer: Fasting and prayer.
What is fasting? Matthew 5:6 says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Daniel 9:3 says: “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting.” Fasting is about turning to God and committing to communication with Him through prayer. When we turn to Him, we put aside other things that capture our attention and distract us from the satisfaction and blessing we have been given by Him through relationship. Fasting without prayer is just a ‘diet’ and is meaningless if not more distracting. Daniel said “I turned my face to the Lord”– which asks the obvious question, “what did he turn his face away from?” Fasting and prayer helps us to shift our focus back to Him and back to all of the glory, love, connection, and fulfillment that comes from knowing Him.
Let’s be real… all of us have struggled at times with prioritizing movies, social media, emails, and texting over our time spent engaging with God. We are a culture that loves and values constant access to all forms of entertainment.
So, here’s the challenge:
Pick just one day to turn off all social media, T.V., movies, music, and games, and invest in turning your face to the Lord. Do a technology diet. See what happens when you prioritize and invest in that connection through prayer…you might just find that it is something your soul craves.