What would Jesus do with cell phones?

Published 9:14 am Friday, January 20, 2017


Contributing columnist

     Our youth group was going through security at an airport on their way to a mission trip. The TSA agent stopped the youth minister with a bit of shock on his face and asked, “Where are all the cell phones?” The youth minister proudly explained that our youth group is an electronic free zone. He smiled and said, “Cool!”

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Our youth minister always thinks to herself, “Way Cool!” The very real conversations the kids have are certainly cool. The willingness for all the youth (and adults) to engage one another all the time is very cool. It sometimes takes a day for the youth (and adults) to get through their withdrawal symptoms of not being able to check out by texting, listening to music, or playing games, but at the end of the trip everyone agrees that youth gatherings and mission trips should always be technology free zones.

Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T. and author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other”, has spent the last 15 years studying how our “plugged-in lives” have changed who we are. She claims that all our technological devices have produced a world in which we’re always communicating but we’re seldom having real conversations. This is part of her conclusion: “We are tempted to think that our little ‘sips’ of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.”

Are cell phones, iPads, laptops, and all the other devices evil?  No, they are just like everything else in this amazing creation God has given us. When we use them too much they become idols.  God hates idols (e.g. Leviticus 26:1, Deuteronomy 7:25-26).  When we use them to God’s glory they are tools for ministry.  

What do you think Jesus would do with a cell phone? I think, if Jesus lived today, he would have a very simple flip phone. He wouldn’t want a phone that would tempt him to check out on people, and waste lots of time. When I see a flip phone I call them Jesus phones. With a flip phone, He could make quick calls, and tell the disciples where he is and where to meet him. He could make quick pastoral calls to check on people he had healed. He would definitely pray with people on the phone all the time.

Jesus would teach us a simple test to help us understand how to know if we are using technology as tools to glorify God, or idols that distract us from God and one another. He would ask us, does it help you fulfill the two great commandments? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

These questions from EyeOn Creative Media Group can help us  keep our cell phones place in our lives in a healthy perspective.  They call it “The Bible vs. The Cell Phone.” What if our Bible was just as important as our cell phone? We treated it like we couldn’t live without it?  

What if when we forgot it we went back to get it? What if we had lots of gadgets to keep us connect to it? What if we always had it close by in case of an emergency? What if we carried it around in our pockets? What if we checked it through the day for new messages? What if we made sure our battery never ran low?

How much time do you spend on your cell phone wasting time?  Can you live for a month with NO games on your phone? Do you ever check out on real people to communicate with others in your cell phone world? Have you ever declared your mealtime, family time, youth group, or any other important time for actual human contact a cell phone free zone? Look at the questions above again. Try to live for one day as if your Bible were your cell phone. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.com).