A Call to Joy

Zach Watson   -  

As my brothers and sisters in Christ, I want what is best for you. So, because I love you, I want to point out something I think a lot of us may be missing. There is a very good possibility that your relationship with your phone is hurting your relationship with Jesus.

Feel free to turn away now if you’re assuming this is going to be a rant about how things were better back in my day before we had the pocket doohickeys with the interwebs on them that the whippersnappers use to spend all day staring at the facebooks . While that is not what follows, such an assumption may hinder you from seeing it as anything different from what you have already decided it will be and, consequently, little benefit is on the horizon.

However, if you are indeed more interested in your relationship with Christ than you are with your “friends” and “influencers” on social media, perhaps the next few minutes could prove a profit.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:17)

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Does the way you use your phone seem to line up with these exhortations from our brothers Peter and Paul?

I’d encourage you to take the time to read all three letters referenced above. We can have a tendency to grab a verse out of context and end up siphoning the Bible into a set of “do’s and don’ts” for how to live life (a concept that would have been completely foreign to every author who had a part in writing it). This simplification doesn’t simply rob us of seeing the greatness of our God revealed in the text, but it also feeds our flesh as we turn something that was written to transform us into the image of Christ into an instruction booklet that allows us to justify doing whatever we want as long as the doing of it doesn’t violate the black and white of a verse.

If you read the context of the verses above, you will see that the instruction of the apostles is not about keeping people in line so they can receive God’s approval (something both apostles testified to the readers already having in full through Jesus), but, instead, their instruction is about how to experience the great joy found in living a life that proclaims the name of Christ. They are not saying live this way to meet God’s requirements; they’re saying live in such a way that shows all of God’s requirements have already been met for you. Every part of your life has been redeemed by Christ Jesus, so it only makes sense that every part of your life would reflect the joy born from that redemption and your redeemer.

Is that the kind of reflection you see from your Instagram feed? Take a quick moment to flip through your apps. How are those enriching your image-bearing? Go back and look at some of the comments you’ve posted or posts you’ve shared. Do they all look like something Jesus would have cosponsored? Do you see a concentration of fingerprints on your screen that bear testimony to how much of the life Christ has redeemed for you is being wasted on fruitless video games?

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about your phone usage. Like the apostles, I’m not really concerned about “do’s and don’ts” for the sake of “do’s and don’ts.” I am, however, very concerned about you experiencing the joy for which you were designed as a redeemed image-bearer of our magnificent God. I have a feeling most of us are not using our phones to serve the purpose for which we were made and, to our own detriment, we are instead using them to fuel the flesh that is waging war against our souls.

Put down your device and take some time to think about it. What are you getting out of your phone? If it’s not more of Jesus, I think you could benefit from reconsidering your usage.