Does God use technology? As Christians, should we seek to learn how to serve God with technology?
It makes sense to ask such questions because everywhere you look there is new technology coming out. Babies literally grow up with their millennial parents’ smart phones in their hands (and mouths!), learning to swipe, tap, and shake to get what they want from that beautiful, glowing device.And as they drool all over their parents’ newest tech, their baby boomer grandparents are right their hovering over them, recording it all on their own smart phones.
If the church ignores technology, they will be ignoring the culture in which their people live. So what does the Bible say about technology? Does God want Christians to use it for his glory or does he want us to separate ourselves from new things so we can focus more on eternal things?
The Bible Teaches Us to Proclaim Eternal Truth in Modern Ways
It’s a bit of a stretch to say that the Bible talks a whole lot about technology. Of course there are examples: building cities, making instruments, digging wells, fashioning weapons and art from metals, recording history and writing letters on the newest types of papyrus paper – these are all examples of God’s people using forms of technology, which were new in those time periods, for the glory of God.
But more helpful than that, I believe the Bible gives us principles on how to use anything for the glory of God. So while there may not be many Bible verses directly relating to technology, there are countless Scriptures informing us to do everything for God’s glory, to serve him with excellence, and to help as many people as possible hear what God has whispered to us through his Spirit and word.
What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)
“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.” (Colossians 3:17)
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
It shouldn’t be hard for us to see how principles like these found in the Bible relate to using technology. We can serve God with anything that is not inherently sinful. Our job as Christians is to use whatever is available to us in our day and age to proclaim God’s unchanging truth.
Our times and technology are very different that those found in the Bible, but our mission is the same as those we learn about in the Bible. Our job is still to love God and people in our day and age by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for God’s glory. And since our day and age is so saturated with technology, it is our job to figure out innovative ways to share the truths of God through that technology.
In that vein, here are four quick points about how to serve God with technology.
- Use Technology to Proclaim God’s Truth, Not to Proclaim Yourself
Technology has such incredible potential for Christians because it can be harnessed to inform masses of people. What is being communicated is where God will be pleased or displeased. But technology as a communication tools is morally neutral. As I explain in the article “What Does the Bible Say About Selfies?”, motives are always foundational in anything we do when it comes to serving God:
God is not going to judge anyone for taking a picture of themselves, posting it on social media, and hoping others enjoy it. God is not going to judge us for wanting to present ourselves well. It’s not bad to take a picture of yourself so granny can turn on the computer and see how her grand-baby is or so you’re friends from another state can see how you are doing.
God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The Bible, therefore, explains that selfies are good or bad depending on the motivation behind the selfie. May we be so filled with God’s Spirit that we can be honest about our intentions, repent where we need to repent, and sanctify every area of our life for the glory of God.”
- Use Technology to Serve People Rather than Take from People
How does God use technology? Anytime God uses anything, he always does it for his glory and our good. Therefore, to reflect him, we should seek to use technology with this same intent. But how?
We are called and commanded to love God and glorify him in our hearts. But we are also called to love God in actions. The way you love God in action is by loving people. The first and second greatest commandments always flow together. As 1 John 4:20 says,
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
Therefore, when we are trying use technology for the glory of God, we need to meet real human needs. We need to look at the issues, hurts, and problems people are dealing with and come up with innovative and informative ways to actually help.
Posting a funny video is not sinful. Sometimes people need to laugh. But posting a video that gives people a biblical answer that addresses a specific question has a much higher potential to be used by God compared to another update of your cat.
- Use Technology to Speak People’s Language
Missiology 101 is to make sure you know how to speak the native language you are sending missionaries to. If you go to a country with no knowledge of the language and no interpreter to help you, the odds of you communicating the gospel are very slim.
This same philosophy should be applied to the area of technology. Like it or not, much of our culture, especially the millennials and generation z (the common name right now for those younger than millennials), speak the native language of technology. They receive information through google, social media, YouTube channels, and all the other apps on their phones.
To ignore technology is to ignore huge segments of our younger society. If the church wants to reach the next generation, of course preaching, prayer, the Bible and other normal means of grace are still going to be the main tools. But technology can’t be ignored. It’s not about replacing the normal means of grace, it’s about teaching people about these truths in modern languages. It’s about using technology to proclaim the same timeless truth to a modern generation in the language they know.
This is why if you want to serve God with technology, you need to make sure you are doing it with excellence. Imagine going to a foreign country thinking you know the language but your dialect is so bad no one can actually understand you. When we build websites, make videos, write blogs, or create other new technology, it has to be to a certain standard or people won’t be able to receive the message you are trying to speak through that technology.
If the preacher is wearing clothes from the 60s, is preaching from a KJV, and his dialect is so different than yours that you are so distracted you can’t hear anything he is preaching about, obviously you are not going to be helped as much as you could have been. Perhaps his message was powerful but everyone present totally missed it because the mode of delivery was so dated. This same idea can be applied to using old, dated, or poor quality of technology when we are seeking to reach people.
- To Serve God With Technology, Always Remember: God Alone Brings the Growth
Perhaps the most dangerous element to serving God and helping people through technology is the success you might find. Every time someone starts proclaiming the unchanged and eternal truth of God in a new format for a modern generation to hear, people always make an idol of the new modern mode of delivery rather than praising God for his power to transform the hearts of people.
Culture, technology, and methodology have always changed throughout church history. The only thing consistent is that God continues to save people and disciple them through the leading of his Spirit. The Holy Spirit will continue to speak through the Bible, prayer, songs, Christian fellowship and other normal means of grace no matter what new technology might put a fresh spin on these timeless, biblical practices.
Let’s make it clear, no matter how creative and innovative you are, no matter how incredible the technology, God alone is the one who brings true growth. Fads are created by humans. Revivals are created through the power of God proclaiming the gospel through his people (Romans 1:16). Paul had one gift and Apollos had another, but 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 makes it clear that God alone deserves the glory:
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
No matter how cool you are, no matter how modern your expression of God’s truth, if anything truly good is happening, it’s always because the Spirit of God is drawing people to Jesus Christ. As soon as you forget this, you sabotage everything. Even awesome tech won’t earn a blessing of fruitfulness from God if his Spirit is not in it and he is not receiving the glory.
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