Most all of us recognize that we live in the age of immediate and continual electronic social networking. It is the age of social network pages, twitter, blogs, email, texting and electronic telephones or other gadgets which send instant messages and pictures all over the world in seconds. And I clearly recognize that it is so very easy to raise the ire of others, including brethren, if you would dare to raise a critical thought about any of these things. But I feel that I must “take that dare” in an effort to encourage “one another” to be extremely careful that these things don’t take control of our thoughts and lives, especially to the neglect of spiritual matters, and also to not let them rob us of time and attention which we should be giving to others, including our own families and our fellow Christians.
I am greatly concerned that far too many folks have these telephones or gadgets turned on and are watching and working with them continually during the Bible classes and worship services of the church. I personally see them out and being used regularly, and I suspect that such is the case in a great many congregations. We have a tendency to notice our teens and young adults using them, but those much older also have them out and are working with them during services. I greatly suspect that when such is being done, there is very little attention being given to what is being said by our teachers and preachers. I know that the texting of others, some even in the same service with them, is being done over and over again.You might as well just be engaging a verbal conversation, none of which has you paying attention to the spiritual matters around you. I suppose that some parents are totally unaware of what is happening, but the use is so obvious that it is hard to see how they would not be aware of what is taking place around them. Would we have the same regard for someone having a radio plugged into their ear and listening to the latest sports event during services? In either case, the person is simply not tuned in to the spiritual environment and teaching which is taking place.
I am also persuaded that the social networking is also providing an opportunity for Christians to possibly “talk down” or gossip about others. Are we “hungry” to find out about the personal activities and lives of others so that they can be the topic of our conversations?There seems to be so much personal information which we are willing to share with the world, that our lives are changing every day, and possibly changing away from each one of us “minding our own business”! It is most important to remember that we are not to be a “meddler in other men’s matters”. (I Peter 4:15)! One person recently mentioned about someone being on the social network just about 24–7. Maybe that is an extreme, but such things can so control our time and attention that we neglect our spiritual and family obligations.
And we also need to mention the time consuming electronic games, many of which are literally filled with violence and filth, which are becoming a total obsession with some. Are we terribly neglecting our spouses, our children, and our spiritual opportunities to be emotionally controlled by such activities? And is the content of many of them such that Christians ought not to be involved with seeing or using them at all?
It is also very true that one can become obsessed with the use of email or internet that their life gets controlled to the point of neglecting much more serious responsibilities. And the internet also has a great deal on it where a Christian should never be! We should be aware that we are blessed to have many brethren who put excellent Bible teaching on the internet. Do we take advantage of those things as we increase our Bible knowledge? Yes, it is true that the computer can be somewhat of an obsession, and we need to be very careful to not let it get control of us.
Do we need to wake up to more sober and spiritually edifying activities than our letting a number of these be robbing us of time and attention which can be more wisely used? We had better make a total evaluation of our use of time. We need to look soberly at the amount of neglect of spirituality and all our duties which we have toward family and the souls of those who need to be taught the gospel, and also toward our brethren who need us to have more involvement in their lives! How much spiritual growth are we getting from this obsession with electronic devices? Please consider the admonition of II Peter 3:17-18, “Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.” How does my life balance between all of this electronic activity and my increase in knowledge and usefulness in the Lord’s church? How does it balance with my obligations and responsibilities as a husband or wife? “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;” “Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church;” (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29). “that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed:” Titus 2:4-5. Recreation or leisure time is an important part of our well being, but they can sometimes dominate our time and attention.
If our young unmarried adults become obsessed with this electronic world, what interest will they continue to have in spiritual things? Do we wonder at times why so many of our younger generation seem to have less and less interest in relationships with fellow Christians and in the worship and work of the church? Is it possible that we are getting so attached and controlled by the “humanly devised activities” around us that we are losing all of our zeal and devotion to where we are going to spend eternity?
Please don’t mistake my admonitions as being nothing more than opposition to electronic progress. The very opposite is true, as I greatly appreciate these inventions in our lives. But I am deeply concerned about the depth that some have gone in their use, and in the emotional control which it is having on their lives. I am truly concerned about the neglect of spiritual matters because of the submersion of their lives in what can be a dangerous precipice which could quickly plunge them into worldliness. I sincerely plead that you will not be offended by my expressing these concerns. They apply to me just as much as to others. Please give these matters a great deal of serious thought.
Dennis L. Reed