Money, some say, is the root of all evil. Actually, it’s the love of money that’s a cause for concern, because as Jesus notes, we can’t serve two masters. Another more modern take on the two masters could be our smart phones, aka our handy technology. It is too easy to allow our smartphone to be our master.
I began thinking about this as Rev. Joanne discussed John 10:1-10 and Psalm 23 – passages which describe Jesus as our Good Shepherd. She talked about the sheep enclosure, the gatekeeper and the shepherd.
Today, we are bombarded with information. How many notifications do you get on your phone each day?
Too many! There are notifications from apps, magazines, deal sites, messages from friends, and voicemails from missed phone calls. Open Facebook or any other social media app, and undoubtedly there are more notifications there alerting you to something a friend has posted on their timeline or a new post in a group.
So how do we prevent technology from being our master, but instead use it so we can hear the calm, comforting voice of the Good Shepherd?
Rev. Joanne noted her husband has a Bible app, which whenever he opens his phone, an encouraging verse pops up – and he has to read it before he can go tend to reading emails, messages or making a call. Perhaps, I thought, this would be worth a try – but then I imagined how frustrating dealing with the pop-up verse that would inevitably slow me down and frustrate me. Perhaps it would work for some, but not someone like me who uses her phone for work and family communications.
Facebook – some say – can be dangerous. Indeed, the Facebook algorithm gives you more of what you “like” and interact with. It can be dangerous in that it can limit exposure to ideas, news or opinions that challenge your perspective. But, the algorithm can also recognize your faith journey and make suggestions based on who you already follow.
There are also Facebook groups in which like-minded Christians gather and share. St. Andrew’s private Facebook group is one such resource. In it, you will find an array of daily prayers and short contemplations, music, news from the Presbyterian Church in Canada and local social justice initiatives. There are several sources for daily prayers posted in this group, as well as on the public St. Andrew’s page on Facebook: as well as the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, sources include the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of the USA, Following Jesus, The Celtic Christian Tradition, Journeying and the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Facebook Pages can be quite helpful. Even friends’ pages can provide encouragement, particularly if you have a few friends who are ministers – and who take writing prayers as a mission. Former St. Andrew’s interim moderator Neal Mathers has had prayers published and lately he has not only been providing daily prayers, but musical pieces that he finds encouraging.
Some people I know are determined and somewhat proud that they’re not on Facebook. Facebook isn’t the answer to everything, but it can be a helpful platform for socializing and finding encouragement. It can be a place that introduces you to organizations and people who align with your values and which could be helpful on your faith journey.
Steven Charleston is a Native American elder, author and retired Episcopal bishop from Alaska. He blends indigenous spirituality with Christianity to deepen understanding of Divine love.
We are all different and we use technology differently. The fact is it can be a tool to help us grow closer to our Lord and enjoy fellowship with others when we are alone and receive encouragement when we are down. God can use technology!
Give Him the opportunity to use it to encourage you.