Technologism

Daily Readings: Job 22, Haggai 1-21 John 5

You may be wondering what today’s strange title means. Is it a typo? No, it is a new word I have coined – entered only in the little Scrabble dictionary of my own mind😀!  Let me give you the definition of Technologism:

The modern phenomena of the addiction to being distracted by the media, technology and other electronic attractions of modern life

I see its evidence in many lives around me, including my own at times – especially because we have so many interesting and seemingly “good” things to watch, read and/or do – at our very fingertips.  The problem is that our lives can become filled with these non-reality, non-productive things. Things like; smart phones, Hollywood, Fitbits, novels, Netflix, worldwide webs, gaming etc. such that God, and doing His will, are slowly-but-surely muscled out.

I purposely call it an “addiction” because it is a problem that begins innocently enough, but in the end, if we are not self-controlled, it can ruin relationships, cause depression, and in its worst form consume our very lives. It has the power to do that because it is a modern form of idolatry.  We must be diligent to guard against Technologism because it is seductive and “normal” in the world – but not for the believer.  I have been thinking about this issue recently and it coalesced into my new word as we have been reading the Epistle of 1 John. Technologism would fall under the category of what I see as the very heart of John’s message that is summed up like this;

Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

– 1 John 2:15-17

It is imperative that we are in love with God – not the world and its ‘things’.  It is imperative that we are doing the will of God.  Because the end of the two possible love affairs are clear – either passing away or abiding forever. And our choice is made in the little, day-to-day decisions.  The connotation of the word “lust” is to set our hearts on, or to long for. Is that our relationship with technology or other worldly offerings in our lives? John exhorts us that “the world” should not know us, should actually hate us (like Cain hated Abel for doing what was right.) ch. 3:1,13 Is that our relationship with the world?

I find it fascinating, that of all the messages God might have highlighted for eternity, as digested through the brilliant mind of the Apostle John, this is the summary; “Don’t love the world!” Its timeless application is astonishing. You see, Technologism just happens to be a modern form of world-loving idolatry. Other eras had other equally problematic manifestations.

And John’s great letter ends with a seemingly incongruent warning. But when we deeply ponder the words he has shared in the preceding chapters we see the common theme. It actually becomes the same “Don’t love the world” message turned into the “conclusion of the matter” (stealing a phrase from Ecclesiastes 12:13);

Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

– 1 John 5:21

Its simplicity is so truly difficult to enact. John is not exhorting us to watch out for immortal evil beings that might steal our hearts away. No, it is far more tangible than that. He uses all kinds of metaphors (many from Genesis) to drive his message home.

1 John 1 launches the discussion by contrasting darkness and light. (Darkness is the absence of God – “in Him there is no darkness at all” ) ch. 1:5 If you recall, right from the time of Creation, God has been in the process of separating light from darkness. Genesis 1:4 How much more so (John seems to be emphasizing) in the lives of people seeking to be His children! Dark and light must not cohabitate in us! ch. 2:9

Chapter two enhances the theme – now calling darkness “sin”. This chapter reminds us of the sin-choice of Adam and Eve who listened to the liar-serpent. v.4 We can’t say “we walk in light” while figuratively hiding from God because of sin – like they did in the garden. As already mentioned, the very heart of the message is the verses quoted above – about not loving the world. ch. 2:15-17  The three lusts outlined are God’s summation of the aspects of human sin acted out in the description of Eve’s temptation – sensual lusts, coveting, pride and self promotion.  These are the gasoline that runs the sin-filled world (and Technologism).

John then characterizes this darkness/sin/world as “antichrist”. ch 2:18 An apt name for things that have nothing to do with the Light of the World – the Lord Jesus and his Father. He uses a new analogy – again highlighting the Eden story. He now characterizes the antichrists not just as influences but as people; “those who are trying to deceive” and “lie” to you.” vv.26-27 This reference harks back to the enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman of Genesis 3. There has been a constant struggle between the godly and the God-less since that first sin. Similarly, John uses the case-in-point of the second-generation sin of Cain’s murdering his own brother (“because his deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous”). ch. 3:12 This adds yet another layer to the contrast between the children of God (born of God’s seed/seed of the woman, love, life – cp. Abel & Seth) and children of the devil (lawlessness/sin/evil, hate, murderer, death – cp. Cain & his descendants). ch.3:9

In chapters 4 & 5 John drills deeper to outline the Lord Jesus as the Genesis 3 righteous seed that crushed the serpent’s head – the only begotten Son sent in God’s great love to take away our sins. He elevates the dark/light analogy now to the “spirit” level. Like the serpent, sinful false teachers can deceive so we must “test the spirits to see whether they be of God.” ch. 4:1 He discusses a “confidence” and “abiding” that gives peace and “His love perfected in us” to those who believe Jesus is born of God and likewise become His children. ch. 4:12-13, 17-18 By “overcoming the world”. ch 5:5 By “guarding against idols.” ch. 5:21

I see this big umbrella, then, of contrasts and parallelisms of phrases used in 1 John outlined below:

GOD

  • light
  • righteousness
  • keeps commandments
  • overcome the world
  • of God
  • loves brother
  • Christ came in flesh
  • overcome the evil
  • truth
  • believe God
  • the True God
  • born of God
  • children of God (cp.seed of woman)
  • spirit of God
  • life
  • the Father
  • spirit of God
  • spirit of truth
  • love
  • abiding forever
IDOLATRY

  • darkness
  • sin = unrighteousness
  • lawlessness
  • love the world
  • of the evil
  • hates brother/Cain
  • antichrist
  • lusts/pride
  • liar (serpent & Cain)
  • deceived
  • the devil (Gk. false accuser)
  • of the evil one
  • children of devil (cp. seed of serpent)
  • spirit of antichrist
  • death
  • the world
  • false prophets
  • spirit of error
  • fear
  • passing away

I don’t know about you, but it helps me to look at John’s message in this format. The words in each column are interchangeable to emphasize these contrasting worldviews of either:

  1. life lived for God through His son, versus,
  2. life lived for any version of sin-worshipping idolatry man might manufacture.

So it comes down to learning to “love in deed and truth” – if we want to be children of God. ch. 3:18 It comes down to practical choices of how we spend our time and whether we are using it to love our fellow man (brothers). How then should we fill our lives?  Technologism? John willingly shares his insight on this question also:

The one who says he abides in him (Jesus) ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked. ch. 2:6

And just how did he walk?  What did he fill his life with? “Walking in light.” ch.1:7 I’ll list a few light-filled deeds, and you add your own:

resisting sin, doing good works, praying, loving those around him in practical ways, healing, teaching God’s ways, refuting wrong behavior/thinking, spending lots of time doing profitable things with his friends, learning and growing in character, reading/understanding God’s word, telling good stories that teach important lessons, training disciples, loving children, feeding the hungry, worshiping his Father, serving, ministering to the poor, singing praise, directing people to God and His ways, submitting his own life/time/desires to helping and serving others, forgiving, praying for others, fellowship with his Father and others, bringing joy & blessing into others’ lives, hanging out with sinners in order to help them, meditating on God’s promises, growing in favor with God and men, and ultimately sacrificing his life in obedience to his Father and for others

And we’re supposed to walk in the same manner….Seems to me this should muscle out even the remote possibility of Technologism or any other form of idolatry in our lives – like Materialism, Careerism, Sportsism, Hobbyism, Educationism, Vacationism – You name it. What do you think? His was a full and busy life sans idols. It’s a matter we should probably all give some self-examination. Does the above paragraph characterize your life? And if not, change is necessary. The beautiful thing is,

“If we confess our sins. He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

– 1 John 1:9

If we seek it, He will interact in the core of our minds and hearts by abiding in us and, through His Almighty power, helping to cast out any darkness by His impenetrable light. Because “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” ch.1:5

This is sort of a cool (albeit somewhat long – watch at least the first part 😀) visual rendition of 1 John I discovered on Youtube: