John Owen famously said, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you” (Mortification of Sin). Something similar can be said of our relationship with technology: we must master technology or technology will master us.
In her book Alone Together Sherry Turkle writes, “Technology ties us up as it promises to free us up. Connectivity technologies once promised to give us more time. But as the cellphone and smartphone eroded the boundaries between work and leisure, all the time in the world was not enough” (13). Indeed, in many ways we have come to live for that which was supposed to help us live better, or at least more efficiently.
But having said that, I must add that it’s a mistake to blame technology itself. Surely, the big tech companies are spending billions of research dollars on the psychology of technology and doing what they can to addict us to their products. Addiction equals sales, plain and simple.
But we are not the helpless victims of corporate strategies, rather, we are relentless idol worshipers. That is to say, we are constantly putting people, things, and ideas in the place of God and living for them rather than for Him. If not technology, it will be something else. Indeed, the heart of the problem is our own hearts.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Our foolish hearts came to believe that we could find joy and satisfaction in something other than God. But this is a delusion. It’s futile thinking. As Augustine said, “You [God] made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
So again, the heart of the problem is our own hearts, not technology.
What, then, shall we do? Well, biblically speaking, there’s only one way to free an enslaved heart, and that’s to look to Jesus, believe in Jesus, and embrace all he is and all he has done for us. Our hearts will never be free until they’re free in Christ.
But, you might ask, What does this mean? On the one hand, it means that Jesus suffered and died to pay the penalty for our sins, for our idolatry. God does not take our false worship lightly, and for it a price has to be paid. That price is higher—infinitely higher—than we can pay, and so Christ paid it for us. When we believe in him, his payment is added to our account and we’re free from the power and penalty of sin.
On the other hand, it means that Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. He obeyed God the Father with infinite perfection in thought, affection, word, and deed. Therefore, when we believe in Jesus, his righteousness is added to our account and we become acceptable to God.
Or to put it another way, we become free. We become free to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we become free from lesser loves that we formerly put in the place of God. To be sure, we continue to struggle and fight to direct our worship aright, but in Christ, we’re free to do so. We’re able to do so.
Technology is an issue, but it's not the problem. The heart of the problem is our own hearts, and the solution to this problem is to embrace the heart of Christ: all he is and all he has done for us. May the Lord grant us the desire and ability to see the glory of Jesus and choose him above all other things today. May the Lord grant us the ability to be free and satisfied in Him.