Digital Overload and Bible Reading

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In one way or another you are immersed in the information super highway that is the Internet. Our lives are integrated with technology from the moment we get up to the moment we go bed. Today more than ever technology is having an all consuming impact on how we live our lives. How we learn, work, study, socialize, and stay current on media now comes to us via tech tools like smart phones, tablets, reading devices, and of course Television. But with more information now than ever at our disposal is the quality of our education really improving? Statistics show that despite the integration of computers at the public level e.g. schools, people are not necessarily getting smarter. It may be that with all of the digital data being directed at individuals; people are having a hard time processing it all resulting in poor attention spans, lack of real intellectual depth, and apathy towards propositional truth.

For the believer the influence of technology and how it relates to reading can have a similar negative effect if we are settling for quick information versus deep information. Digital Overload is a real threat to Christian thinking. One thing technology offer is instantaneous gratification. We glance at Facebook to see how our “friends” are doing, we “Tweet” to make our voice heard although we are limited to 140 characters, we Google to get a quick fact check; but if we think Christian sanctification works that way we are headed for disappointment in the Christian life. Two texts to consider:

2 Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Psalm 1:1–3 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The challenge of our generation is to resist the temptation to interpret everything in a Technocratic way (a term used by Carl F. H. Henry in: God, Revelation, and Authority). We still need time off “the grid”. Unless technology is being used to advance and enhance lengthy, meditative, contemplative time saturating our minds in the Word of God, we may need to exercise self control and recognize that quality time with God is not always possible with one eye on your Twitter account and the other eye closed in prayer. Paul told Timothy that the precious gift of “understanding” would only happen as he “considered” (νοέω) what he said. Here the word is “to think” in a careful or even critical manner (cf. Matt. 24. 15). Paul is not calling Timothy to glance over his words, get the gist and then be ready to cut and paste the comment for others to see; rather, Paul is asking, or literally commanding (note: Gk. “to think” is Imperative), Timothy to think deeply upon his words. This should lead us to conclude that only through careful, critical, and investigative thought process will the Word of God yield the fruit contained therein.

We see the same thing in the blessed man of Psalm one. Not only is he called to avoid the direction, posture, and position of the wicked (i.e. the person devoid of God’s knowledge and Spirit) but also to pursue a supreme delight than what the world has to offer. He is called to delight “in the Law of the Lord”, to make Scripture his treasure and chief passion in life. Yet, he cannot do this by a terse and cursory glimpse at the Bible, instead he is called to “meditate” on the Law of the Lord “day and night” without fear of what may happen in the world while he is not watching. Technology’s aim is often geared at saving you time by increasing brevity and reducing time spent reading about something. But again, only through time-consuming Bible thinking, Bible research, and Bible meditation will we reap the boon of spiritual vitality and life. A person who is intoxicated and preoccupied with his/her greatest delight will let the world around them rage and run. Let the digital world thread in a million directions, allow Tweets, Facebook comments, headlines, and current events to pass you by, and let the Word of God consume all of you as you read and ponder its transcendent majesty.

Soli Deo Gloria