The Bible certainly seems to support the idea that the Christian faith is a deeply relational manifestation of life. The list of ‘one anothers’ is impressively long and includes things like: love one another, be of the same mind towards one another, admonish one another, serve one another, bear one another’s burdens, be kind to one another, forbear with one another, comfort one another, confess one’s faults to one another, and many more. These reciprocal obligations are challenging to carry out in the digital age in which we live.
I worry that the digital generation are slowly losing the face-to-face interaction that is so important for creating and sustaining meaningful and fulfilling connections, to their own detriment. A recent article in the journal Christianity Today makes mention of the rising suicide rate among young Japanese who, as a result of spending absurd amounts of time on technology, had become socially alienated. According to the report, “They have lost some of what it is to be human.”
We live in a very different world in 2023. Very few people have a home landline anymore. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. E-mails or text messages or snap chats are now the current generations favoured method of communication, which I find to be rarely fulfilling. We seem to be losing the desire to speak with people, hear their voices, feel the nuances of their emotions, and be able to probe them for details that would otherwise be hazy in our knowledge of their lives or the lives of their families.
I am aware that it is paradoxical for me to observe such things while utilising this particular technology. But a micro-chip inside whatever the newest device may be can never take the place of a human’s touch, voice, presence, laughter, tears, prayers, and affirmations. I’m glad that people may view or download my sermons online. The internet has opened up the whole world to the gospel and I wish more Pastors and preachers would utilise this amazing medium – but primarily with those with whom it is not possible to have a personal, fact to face relationship.
I am sure most parents of adult children have sat in a room at Christmas time with the extended family and observed all the mobile phones in operation as the distinct lack of connection and relationship among those present. We laugh at such scenes but I fear there may be something very sad happening as we connect less and less with real people.
I often wonder if Christ’s earthly mission had commenced in these ‘enlightened’ technology driven times, how would Jesus would have trained the Twelve and connected with the people He came to save? Instagram? Facebook? Tic Tok? Perhaps He would have used those platforms, but how would He have really connected with the hearts of people with whom He served?