What does our behavior say about what we value?
Last week we started this series on technology at Riverside Church of Christ where I am blessed to preach. One of the things we acknowledged is that technology is changing. That’s obvious. Everyone knows that. The question that we asked last week & that I believe we have to continue to ask is,
“How is technology changing us?”
We could look at a number of different things when it comes to how technology is changing & how it’s changing us, but I think there’s been one very subtle shift that has had a major impact on our lives without most of us even realizing it.
When I was a kid, I remember every Saturday morning getting to wake up to watch cartoons. Do you remember when Saturday morning was really the only time cartoons came on tv?
That’s when you could watch the Smurfs, or He-Man, or Ninja Turtles… you know, all the good cartoons!
But every Saturday morning, sometime before lunch, all the cartoons would stop. And that was when, because there was nothing on TV to watch, kids would go outside to play or do something else other than watch TV.
And all of life worked that way when it came to technology. There were natural breaks, stopping points.
We no longer having “Sopping Cues” when it comes to our technology.
Just think about it.
Our kids can watch their cartoons or their shows whenever they want. They can watch as many as they want. Wherever they want. It’s not just something reserved for Saturday mornings & it’s no longer reserved to just 1 episode.
And the same is true for adults. In fact, we’ve created new terminology to define it… we call it “Binge Watching.”
We watch content with multiple episodes & multiple seasons and if you subscribe to one of the streaming services, you can even watch without commercials! Without stopping!
But it’s not just TV.
When the Apple iPod came out, the selling point was that you could put a 1000 songs in your pocket! How many hours of uninterrupted music is that? Before, when your cassette tape came to the end of side A, you could flip it over to side B to listen to a few more songs. Or when the CD you were listening to was over, you had to change it out to a new CD. There was a stopping point.
But it’s not just music.
Before facebook & social media became a thing, you might wake up in the morning, get your coffee & a news paper. Every article had a beginning & an end. At some point, when you had finished reading the paper, you would put it down & move on to the next thing.
Now, we get all that information on our devices & it is endless. There is no end to the social media feed. It goes on & on & on. There is no end to the news. There are no stopping cues.
But it’s not just news & social media.
Just think about it, it’s every area of our lives that is affected by technology. There are no stopping cues. So we get sucked into the glow of our screens & the number 1 reason this is so dangerous is that it puts us at odds with what JESUS said was most important.
Have you ever done this…
Have you ever been physically present with another person but ignored them because you were looking at your screen?
Did you know there’s an actual name for this… it’s a new word that was just introduced to the world in 2012 by a group of people in Australia who were tasked to come up with a word that would be defined as “the practice of ignoring one’s companion or companions in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device.”
The word is, “Phubbing.” PHONE + SNUBBING
Sometimes we phub each other.
Sometimes we phub our kids.
It’s never fun to be present with someone who is more interested in their phone than they are in you! But this is the draw of technology.
The draw of technology more often than not is away from people. Not towards them.
So we have to ask the question, What does our behavior say about what we value?
What is most important?
If I were to ask you, What did Jesus say was most important? My guess is that most of you would answer that question the same way.
Jesus was actually asked this question in Mark 12, and Jesus responded by saying, “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12.29-31)
What is interesting to me is that just about everything written in your Bibles after the gospels are instructions about HOW to love God & HOW to love each other better!
This is what the apostle Paul does in his letter to he Romans. After spending the first 11 chapters of Romans talking about God’s desire for all people to know of His desire for them to experience salvation through faith in Jesus, Paul makes a turn in chapter 12. What he does next is so interesting to me.
He turns from laying out the good news about Jesus & God’s love for us all to telling the church HOW to treat each other in light of this good news!
In other words, because you have experienced the love of God through Jesus something has to change about how you behave & what you value.
A New Set of Internal Values
You might say that Paul, in chapter 12, is giving the church a new set of internal values to live from.
Here’s what Paul says…
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Paul didn’t say…
Love each other by liking each other’s posts & pictures on social media, and take delight in leaving comments for each other with lots of emojis.
But isn’t that how we think & operate?
In order to really love each other we will probably have to put down our devices long enough, stop phubbing each other long enough, to have real interactions.
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Now I have to step on some of our toes. Because if there’s one thing our screens have given us permission to do it is to be lazy.
I’m not saying & I don’t think Paul is either that you don’t need downtime. Time to withdraw. Rest.
In fact, the opposite is true. YOU DO need REST. And REST is biblical! Even spiritual!
But, could it be that our screens & our screen time has gone past rest into the realm of just being lazy?
Could it be that true rest doesn’t happen when you’re looking at a screen?
We are the kings & queens of rationalization. We tell ourselves & each other… You deserve a break! And, you probably do!
BUT, at what point do we be honest with ourselves that there is a difference between REST & LAZINESS? Between SABBATH & SCREEN TIME?
The definition of lazy is, “Unwilling to work or use energy.”
Paul says this is one way we live different, by having an attitude & disposition that is ready to practice the activity of loving, really loving, each other!
Then Paul says, Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
This is how we practice loving each other! Patience, prayer & the practice of hospitality!
What does your behavior say about what you value?
Here’s what I believe is true.
Your behavior communicates your internal values. When your behavior does not communicate the internal values you hold most dear, then it’s time for you to hit RESET & change your behavior to match your TRUE Internal Values.
Andy Crouch recently wrote a book called, “The Tech Wise Family.” In it, Andy lays out his 10 Tech Wise Commitments.
Here’s number 3 on his list. Andy says, “We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play and rest together.”
What does that internal value communicate to those around you?
What if we created new stopping cues that encouraged us to put down our devices & look up at each other?
If every night at dinner, you had a screen free dinner & for 1 hour without devices, you talked about your day, shared a meal together & did it all without the interruption of a screen.
What if 1 day a week, when you’re at home, it’s a screen free day for everyone?
And what if, what if 1 week a year, on your vacation, you had a screen free week?
I love what one company does for their employees. I think it’s a German based company I learned about. When their employees go on vacation they don’t just send a vacation auto-responder email out. If you email one of their employees on vacation you get a response that says, “This person is on vacation. Your email has been deleted. They will never read it. They will be back in 2 weeks. Feel free to contact them then!”
Isn’t that great! Sometimes the hardest part of being away on vacation is ignoring your email knowing it will ALL be there when you get back! But what if you just trashed it all!
And here’s the real point, What would that communicate to the people around you?
I love what Mark Batterson once said, “I want the people who know me best to respect me most.”
I believe that will happen when we REALLY LOVE EACH OTHER.
Real love is not just communicated, it’s demonstrated.
If we think about it, this is how we know how much God values us. This is how we know how much God loves us. It’s not because of anything He said. It’s not because of anything Jesus ever taught.
We know that we are loved by God because God demonstrated His love for us.
Paul would also say these words to the church in Romans 5.8,
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We know we are loved by God, we know how highly we are valued by God, because God DEMONSTRATED His love for us!
Who you need to demonstrate your love toward this week?
Maybe the most spiritual thing we can do this week is put down our phones & look up at each other.
Maybe the most spiritual thing we can do this week is put down our phones & look up at the cross.
Maybe then we can get back to demonstrating our love for each other & for God.
I serve as the Preaching Minister at Riverside Church of Christ in Coppell, TX. I enjoy sports, running, fishing & life with the family. I’ve been in ministry since 1999. My wife Alisha & I have three amazing children, Will, Ella Grace & Emma Love. Thanks for stopping by my blog.