When Relationships Collide, Session 1: Fighting Over-Connection

by Emily Tillman

 Why God Doesn’t “Tech-Speak” To Us

overconnectionDo you ever feel overwhelmed with the relationships in your life? As a member of the millennial generation, connecting with other people often becomes a puzzle of putting the right-sized piece in at just the right time. In junior high, it was simple. You made friends with certain people in your class until a negative encounter happened, then you moved to another group in the class. Your friendships were dictated by your physical sphere of influence. Today, your friendships are infl uenced by technology. Technology can enhance contact between people, but its standards don’t apply to our relationship with God.

GOD DOESN’T SEND FRIEND REQUESTS

He wants a devoted, close-knit, loving, transparent union with you. Why? Because He loves you and knows you. Technology allows us to create a fake self. We know people on a surface level because we follow their lives through a series of online reported activities. At the core of Internet-based relationships is a sense of anonymity, but at the core of our existence is a desire to be known. In the very beginning of Scripture we find that God knows us. In Genesis 2, we see God looking for a mate for Adam. He knows Adam so deeply that He knows that nothing yet created would fulfill his desire for relationship. God created for Adam, from Adam, a perfect match. The Lord knew Adam was better in relationship with someone else, and He knew Adam deeply enough to fulfill His desire. God created you, and He knows you deeply. And He wants you to know Him deeply. From that relationship with Him, He wants to provide community for you to be known by others.

GOD DOESN’T INSTANT MESSAGE

Another danger approaching our spiritual relationship with God is that He does not communicate in the same way we value. In technology-based communication, responses are immediate. If we don’t get a message back, we message again until it merits a response. We sleep with our phone on our pillow or right next to the bed, just in case someone needs an immediate response. God desires to relate to us on a level that is so intimate that sometimes an immediate response is not best for us.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was feeling desperate to hear from God. Angels provided for Elijah, but he still wanted Jehovah. He stood at the opening of a cave and waited to hear from God. In the silence, when Elijah least expected it, Jehovah revealed Himself. In John 11, Mary and Martha longed for Jesus to show up and help their brother. Just when they thought it was too late, Jesus showed up and changed their lives by performing a miracle and raising their brother, Lazarus, from the dead. In Psalm 46, God says, “Be still and know that I am God” (NIV). There’s a danger in applying our technology-based communication expectations to a God who holds time in His hands.

GOD DOESN’T ENTERTAIN

The last threat to our relationship with Christ is simply our ability to filter information. The world around us is fast-paced. My phone makes five different sounds based on what it’s trying to tell me. Our attention span is a rare resource that the world fights to grab hold of for just a few seconds. The way to win attention is to create an experience that makes an impression. God created an experience for us that changed our lives when He sent Jesus to die on a cross for us and redeemed us through Him. He is interested in our ability to trust Him — not to be entertained by Him.

In Hebrews 11, our faith is described as being about finding assurance of the things we hope for in Christ and the evidence of unseen things. Our need for constant entertainment makes it even more difficult to put our trust in something that we do not see. Waiting for God to show Himself in an entertaining, impression-making performance may result in a lack of trust in who God is. Even God’s description of Himself in Exodus 3 required Moses to put a lot of faith in Him. He calls Himself “I am.” He will not change, and we can put absolute faith in that.

Technology has changed the way we communicate, opened doors for business, made the gospel more accessible to the world, and deepened relationships across physical boundaries. As a generation trying to figure out how to juggle the difficult relationships in our technology-driven lives, it’s important to remember that the truths of Scripture still stand true. Our relationship with God is not held to the same standards as our relationship with people. Let your study of Scripture and God’s personal revelation to you be the standard for your relationship with Him.

EMILY TILLMAN is a seminary student at NOBTS. A native of Mississippi, but a girl with friends all across the globe, she uses Twitter and her blog to keep up with her friends in many different places.

Is It Time For A Media Fast?

In a recent study, 53 percent of people said they felt upset and 40 percent felt lonely when they couldn’t go online for even a short period of time. Are you too plugged in? Try the following to find out:

1. Keep a Media Diary For Five Days

Just like people who want to lose weight keep a food diary, try keeping a media diary — noting when and for how long you text, surf, or watch the tube. You might be surprised.

2. Take a Technology Sabbath

From sundown to sundown, separate yourself from cell, laptop, iPad, and TV. Pick one day a week, letting others know your intentions. How did you do?

3. Fight Tech With Tech

Try rescuetime.com to monitor your time online (helps you be more productive too). Try Strict Pomodoro to block time-guzzling social networking sites and have work and play (break time — you do need it, after all) scheduled for you.

4. Stop and Assess Your Feelings

When you’re emailing, how do you feel? When you’re playing video games, how do you feel? If you answer “busy, edgy, distracted” or other negatives, consider spending your free time differently. What activities let you feel “happy, relaxed, connected, imaginative”?

collegiateThis article originally appeared in the Spring, 2013 issue of Collegiate magazine. To subscribe, click here or on the magazine cover.

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