What happens if you limit technology use?

Published 10:26pm Friday, March 7, 2014

“Confession is good for the soul,” a Scottish proverb says. So here’s my confession. “I think my iPhone may be an idol in my life.” That’s why I’ve decided that for Lent I am going to intentionally limit how much time I spend on my iPhone and other electronic devices.

Go to any restaurant or any public place, for that matter, and you will see people of all ages staring at the small rectangular screens in their hands. It may be an iPhone or an iPad or Kindle/Nook. Electronic devices can distract, making us unaware of conversation or anything else going on around us.

A few years ago, I tried giving up Facebook during the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday of Easter week known as Lent. Though I’ve never attended a church that observes Lent, I’ve learned it’s a season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, acts of charity, penitence and prayer; also described as spiritual Spring cleaning.

Lent is an annual time of sacrifice and simplicity, or a period of fasting leading up to the feast of Easter. Some of the things suggested for fasting include coffee, caffeine, gossiping, smoking, sweets, television; and that’s just a short list.

You may be surprised that I would consider my iPhone an idol. Typically, we think of idols as wooden or stone carvings that people worship. Even though I’ve downloaded apps for devotional reading such as My Utmost for His Highest and Streams in the Desert, they do not justify the time I spend on my iPhone.

Author/minister Chuck Swindoll has said, “It is easy to get attached to idols, good things inappropriately adored.” Worship means to attribute worth to something or someone. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes it this way, “That which (a person) is prepared to give his time, his energy, and his money.”

Adding up the hours I spend online, as in Facebook, genealogy research and checking email, etc. has caused me to consider a “technology fast” to spend more time connecting with God through Bible reading and prayer.

I once read a column by Chuck Colson who referenced a book by author Susan Maushart titled The Winter of Our Disconnect, describing our addiction to media as “infobesity.” Colson asked if it was time for a tech-fast, “Don’t use your iPhone, don’t sign in to Facebook, whatever your tech weakness is, just withdraw for a while and see what happens.”

Lent teaches a lesson in priorities that hopefully will last a lifetime. Jesus must become more important, so I must become less important.“If anyone desires to come after Me,” Jesus commanded, “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Adrian Rogers once said, “There is a great difference between denying yourself things and denying yourself.” Bible teacher Colin Urquhart has written, “The cross that Jesus tells us to carry is the one that we willingly take up ourselves – the cross of self-denial in order that we might live for the glory of the Father.”

Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com.

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