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We can use tech in sober, awake ways

January 10, 2023
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Daily Scripture

1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4-11

2 You know very well that the day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night.

4 But you aren’t in darkness, brothers and sisters, so the day won’t catch you by surprise like a thief. 5 All of you are children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to night or darkness. 6 So then, let’s not sleep like the others, but let’s stay awake and stay sober. 7 People who sleep sleep at night, and people who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 Since we belong to the day, let’s stay sober, wearing faithfulness and love as a piece of armor [or breastplate] that protects our body and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 God didn’t intend for us to suffer his wrath but rather to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 Jesus died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with him. 11 So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul called God-given faithfulness and love spiritual “armor” to guard his converts’ lives as children of light. Scholar William Barclay wrote, “This word (pistis) is…the characteristic of the [person] who is reliable.” * It meant we can choose to use all our energy, time, skills, money or other assets (including technology tools Paul couldn’t have begun to imagine) to bless others and build God’s kingdom.

  • Paul began this letter praising the Thessalonians for their faith, hope and love (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3; also 1 Corinthians 13:13). As he neared the end of his message, he returned to those central spiritual qualities as the “armor” they could depend on to protect their life as children of light, not darkness. How do faith, hope and love function as “armor” to protect you from hurtful uses of technology? How can positive uses of tech tools amplify the impact of those good qualities?
  • Paul’s guidance included a strong emphasis on being “awake.” How much of your current technology use is purposeful and intentional, and how much of it becomes a kind of mindless, unplanned scrolling? In what ways might you use technology (tools like alarms and alert messages) to bring a greater level of “awakeness” to your use of these powerful tools?
Prayer

Holy Spirit, be even more present with me than my phone or computer screen, shaping and guiding my activities (especially those that use tech) in ways that advance your kingdom. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

I feel a bit weird writing this in the midst of a technology-themed sermon series, because honestly, my relationship with technology is a little different, and undoubtedly much more healthy, than many of the negative relationships we see now. I work in tech, making websites for pharmaceutical companies, and it was in the tech industry that I first became a published author. I met my wife online, at a time before internet dating was really a thing, and many of our mutual online friends attended our wedding.

My relationship with social media has never really been negative. I’ve made new friends I never would have otherwise known, and I’m able to keep up with friends I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I’ve never felt less happy or confident after browsing social media.

All that said, while not negative, my relationship with social media, and the friends I collected there, wasn’t always meaningful. For the most part, politeness and peacemaking were my primary goals on social media—and because of that, I learned to stay away from a lot of topics that were vitally important, but that people felt strongly about. Occasionally, I would feel strongly enough on a topic to speak out about it, and I would garner several heated replies whenever I did.

After a while, I realized my primary concern with social media was my own feelings. I’m a mental health advocate, so self care is absolutely important, but so is self-actualization—being a part of something bigger than yourself and making a difference in the world. As the years progressed, I noticed that a lot of my friends that belonged to marginalized groups ran into the same problem that I did—divisive issues became impossible for them to talk about without attracting hate or discord. But there was one major difference: while I was talking about issues, these people were talking about their own personal experiences. One by one, I saw many of my friends being silenced because the status quo—what I had worked to protect with my politeness and peacemaking, was intentionally set up in a way to further marginalize these people, and to make the people doing the marginalizing feel better about it.

I found myself in an interesting place. Marginalized people are constantly asked to justify their own pain and experiences, and frankly, they’re exhausted by it. On the other hand, I, simply being who I am, was in a spot where others like me were much more open to hearing my opinion on how we could be better rather than others’ opinions on how they had been hurt. It’s a sad reality, but I found my place in social media gently influencing and guiding people to the truth rather than using the truth as a weapon or suppressing it to protect my feelings.

I still do get the occasional hurtful comment. Doing any sort of advocacy, you have to grow pretty thick skin. But it’s taught me a lot about how to deal with not only conflict, but also with deep-seated biases that others sometimes don’t even know they have. Additionally, marginalized friends, who feel increasingly alone in social spaces made to avoid talking about their lived experiences, are reminded that they’re not alone.

I don’t mean to say that I am the key to solving all of these problems, or even that I’m a very important part. Honestly, the best thing I do on social media is simply listen when others talk, and amplify voices that are saying important things. But my mission on social media changed when I realized it was a tool for influence rather than a fun way to waste a few hours. Social media can be a healthy thing if you approach it with purpose and moderation. Be mindful of the people in your social media circles who need their voices amplified—and those who are made to feel more marginalized by our silence.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 51.