If extraterrestrials visited earth, I bargain that upon observation of mankind their queries would reveal that one thing we hold in high regard is our personal comfort.
Technology provides an immensely easy way to remain relatively comfortable. If something bothers or challenges us in a way that disrupts our carefully balanced equilibrium we simply change the channel or move to another web site etc.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that a lot of discomfort arises socially for the most part.
There’s that strange neighbour who always wants to talk on end about things you could care less about. Or the cashier at the local shop who can’t seem to ever remember the codes for produce even though you’ve got them memorized by this time. The phone calls from that family member that you screen, or forget to and then have to dialogue when your TV show is reaching its pivotal plot. I could go on but you get the picture.
People, human beings, have an unbelievable ability to annoy one another. We are all so different, so unique, how can God expect us to co-inhabit this earth. I mean really!
Technology allows us to greatly limit our daily dosage of annoying humans, to limit the irritation caused by those with any character discrepancies we simply cannot manage today. But there’s no ‘sweet without the sour’ as they say in the jazz world and life without some sour simply tastes bland. A steady diet of bland leads to boring and no one starts out life with the goal of being boring…
I run and was recently reading a running etiquette article online. One tip of notable mention on its list of running etiquette was the importance of not running with ear buds whilst with a running partner; “If you’ve been invited out on a run by a friend or acquaintance, perhaps they might want to talk.” Seriously?!
It’s rare these days to see someone out without buds in their ears. It’s a message to potential intrusive humanoids, “Hey don’t bother me, I’m doing something”, Very effective to limit the possible cumbersome interaction with an irritating character at the bus stop or during transit. Works especially well on a plane.
We have amassed many different ways to avoid the potential irritation of situations we may dislike.
Take Christmas shopping for instance. This past season I witnessed what only could be described as checkout rage, as an elderly women at the till was holding up the line due to what the customer behind her felt was an apparent inconsiderate search for the exact change within her handbag.
Oh how annoying! No matter, shop online next year.
The convenience of home theater, no more piling in like cattle to the local movie establishment and for that matter no more renting movies and dealing with the clerk and their silly movie suggestions. We can get it all from the comfort of our own home.
But the reality is we cannot, no matter how we try, completely remove all interactions with those that may irritate us. You may be able to choose the chat room hangouts or online forums you want to participate in, thereby potentially creating or living entirely within environments inhabited by those you like or have similar interests with.
But you cannot choose your parents or for that matter your siblings (and we all know how fun that can be) and for Christians that means your spiritual brothers and sisters as well. Despite the fact that tech today is often used as a means to avoid others, Christians must exercise prudence (seeing the world as it is and acting accordingly) in averting the snare of boring, overly comfortable lives.
If Christ had the same mindset as many do today, He would have never consorted with the troublesome, burdensome lost souls that we all are. Jesus was the friend of sinners, people we might peg as simply annoying.
In an age of radical individualism coupled with growing rates of loneliness and depression the picture of Christ’s church becomes something of a prophetic beacon beckoning us back to one another. The body of Christ complete with all the different peoples, experiences, cultures, heartbreaks, pain, joy, children and families coming together under the Lordship of Christ truly breaks us free from the bondage of comfort and challenges us to love as He did, to see as He does, the “Father of all compassion” and to “Go and do like wise”.
Eph 4:1-2 “ I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
These four qualities Paul outlines for Godly living help to combat the lure of retreating behind familiarity and comfort.
Firstly Paul calls us to be humble, to not think more highly of ourselves then we ought. Pride can keep us from unforeseen friendships, from new perspectives and experiences that God desires to challenge and grow us through.
Paul in 2Cor 10:12 writes that it is unwise to compare ourselves with one another but rather to compare ourselves with God. It is when we do this that we walk in true humility and begin to see others with the gentleness that is Paul’s second trait of Godly living he calls us too.
We may not always agree with everyone but as Christians we are called to deal with one another gently and with understating.
The seemingly annoying relationships we often use technology to avoid are the there as a gift from God to grow us in patience. C.S. Lewis once remarked that he was not very fond of the company of young children but noted that as a fault of his own and nobody else’s. A lack of patience for others most often is a fault of our own as well and something that if we are willing to God desires to develops in us allowing us to follow Paul’s final exhortation; bearing with one another in love.
Take a minute and ask God to bring someone to your mind, someone you may have put on the other side of your technology wall. Now begin to pray that God would help you to see them as He does (this takes humility). Pray that God would give you a heart to reach out to them in gentleness and equip you with patience for the potential long haul of bearing one another with love.
It’s odd that people today are lonelier then ever before where there are so many socially networking tools at our disposal. Perhaps the old world method of being a friend to someone, real face to face conversing is just what the modern life needs.
When we walk “worthy of the calling we have received”, the world becomes one of God’s possibilities within every person we encounter. Lets not let the convenience of modern living rob us of those many possibilities.