Not Compromising in a Digital Age

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We all enjoy the convenience of smart phones, especially being able to access scads of bibles, devotionals and sermons all at the swipe of an app. I use them. I’m glad for them.

But I’ve also become spiritually lazy through them. No more hunting through books…just input a few keywords and, voila! It’s all right there.

Among other things, technology has begun to erode my previously razor sharp memory, and my powers of deductive reasoning. I have begun to deliberately force myself to remember things in real world brain work, trying to avoid using Google to think for me. And as I’ve done so, I can feel the strength of God-given reasoning returning a synapse at a time. Like other muscles, the brain atrophies through lack of work and exercise.

Though technology has made the Bible easier, it’s done two other things. One- it has made us spiritually and Word-lazy. We don’t study to show ourselves approved unto God much, because we don’t have to. We just keyword, copy, paste…sort of glancing over the verse.

Now, I’ve never been good at “addresses” – you know, which chapter and verse. But from age 15 on, I was so hungry for the Word that I devoured it, reading it over and over. Not because I’m smart. In fact, my brain was just new age mush when I came to Christ. God’s Word healed me. And it supernaturally was put in my heart and in my mouth. I can quote the Word nonstop, though I can’t always tell you exactly where it is.

It’s not something I take any credit for. It is a miracle of the power of God’s Word. It will do the same for anyone who diligently reads His Word.

Now let me ask you a question, and please be honest: How often do you sit down and have a deep, anointed quiet time with your iBible? (Insert cricket sound here.)

Second question: when was the last time you picked up a real bible and had a deep, anointed quiet time with God?

If people are honest, many will admit that there is something major missing from the virtual devotional world. Yes, you might find a book quote snippet or two that sparks a fire, and I’m thankful for that. But I personally feel an emptiness staring at a screen version of God’s Word. But that’s just me. I love the book, the underliner, the lack of Facebook switching distraction (you know you do it!) and the silence and absence of artificial light. Just something to think about…

Next: if your only bible study is your virtual Bible, how much have you retained? If you come up lacking, I encourage you to get the hard copy, shut off the media and sit with God, slowly read, and let Him speak. It is powerful when you feel His presence come from those Holy pages and begin to make those words come alive to you. It is an intimacy I personally have never really obtained from a 4 inch phone version of the scriptures. Am I the only one?

But there are two other considerations we need to make in our attachment to virtual Bibles and virtual religious devotional lives.

The most immediate concern is this: One of the things that made us so strong as young believers when I was first saved was that we carried our Bibles to school, to work, to restaurants, everywhere. Yeah, pretty radical by today’s standards. But we knew it marked us, and friend, we WANTED to be marked! (Crazy Christians – aren’t you just showing off?) Hey – when your boyfriend/girlfriend buys you a ring or a locket, do you keep it at home in your drawer? If you’re engaged, do you hide the ring in your house, in your pocket? If you do, it’s probably a sign that you still want to “play the field.” Or you’re not really serious about getting married. Or maybe you’re kind of embarrassed by your fiance.

One  of the bad things about smart bibles is it allows us to remain hidden secret believers. No one needs to know we’re a Christian. And we’re largely OK with that. Because, you know, we don’t want to offend anyone…

I’m glad for one of our local Christian school groups which is actually doing a challenge to the kids to carry their Bible for a number of days. And I know it will get them to think, as some will carry it and feel squeamish, trembly, uncertain. Many will get mocked. But many I am sure will be strengthened, and perhaps emboldened. And frankly, that is something a virtual smart Bible won’t do. Any of that.

Here’s the other concern with smart Bibles. What happens when (not if) “Christian extremists” get marked for their “radical” and “dangerous” views about abortion, homosexuality, drugs, sex before marriage, Jesus coming back, the Antichrist and the tribulation? (There are still a FEW young people still being taught that in church, right? Right? (More crickets…)

Well, that is coming, and probably sooner rather than later. And with it will come the confiscation at some point of the book we hold so dear. And it occurred to me that once they identify you as “one of those Bible extremists that are dangerous to society,” then it will be as easy as….switching off your phone service, and there goes your access to the Word of God.

You think it can’t happen? Oh, you must be a new evangelical American Christian.

Because surely, it will come. And when it does, what will we then do?

I believe the book Fahrenheit 451 is instructive. It was about a society in which all books were confiscated and burned. The books survived because each person BECAME a book. They memorized it. The books lived because they lived in the person’s memories and words. And you could only destroy the book by destroying the person.

I think you see where I am going here. There’s probably a reason early Muslim teachings called Jews and Christians “the people of the book.” Because they were so dedicated and committed to the Holy Writ. We are so, so far from that, folks.

This is the time for some crash-course Bible reading and memorization. The time will come when we may not have access to the book we hold so dear. So I’d like to urge you, not to dispense with your electronic scriptures, but get hold of the real thing and read it every day. Feel the pages. Smell the paper. Cherish the words. Underline the places that the Holy Spirit speaks to you. Let it become once more – while we still can – people of the Book.

I remember in the former Soviet Union – an atheistic, satanic monster that killed far more Jews and Christians than Hitler ever dreamed of – people would give anything just for a fragment of the Word of God. One young teen girl stood by helplessly as KGB agents threw her Bible to the ground, ripped it, spat on it. When they finished, she knelt down weeping and wiping the spit away with her long hair – until they executed her.

May God help us to cherish His word that much!

Oh, and one more thing. And I am dead serious. Think about purchasing some small Bibles, either the whole Bible or a small New Testament with Psalms – and hide them away. If we all did that a few at a time, then when the electronic Bibles are taken away, we will have hard copies of the real thing. We back up our computers and print hard copies. Now is a good time to make sure we have backups, too. The day may soon come when it will be the most hated – and by real believers, rare and cherished – book on the planet.

“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11

Gregory Reid