On Sunday we explored a piece of underrated and life changing piece of technology: the brick. We explored how the story of Babel found in Genesis 11 isn’t just about God scattering but God’s response to technology and how it shapes us.
So what we discovered is that the people were moving eastward. Yet the people began to settle. In essence they began to move away from their nomadic roots. And with their “rootedness” they began to create something of permanence that wasn’t a possibility before. They wanted to create a Tower. Yet the only reason this becomes a possibility is through technological innovation: the creation of a brick. Bricks are uniform, they are mass-producible, and functional. They open up the ability to building projects never even dreamed of before.
Yet we read of the motives behind their building project. It says this in Genesis 11:4-5 ““Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies – a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world”. Here we get a glimpse how technology can shape us. It can influence us to create monuments to our own greatness. There is nothing wrong with creation, creativity, and innovation (in fact God commands it in Genesis 1-3). What is wrong though is creating out of a desire to prove our own greatness rather than a response to God’s goodness.
Technology has a tendency to infect and increase our pride. Look at how people strive for the better car, phone, house, or cool gadget so that they feel secure. These are the same emotions and insecurities that drove people thousands of years ago to make the Tower of Babel. We desire our own permanency, and monuments to our greatness but the message of the text is that in chasing after those things we end up scattered and alone. This is true in our day and age today.
The second danger is technology can distract us from God’s calling. Up until this point in the narrative the calling has been to move, and fill the earth. Now though people are settling and creating monuments to their greatness. And I think while our times are different technology still today separates us from God’s calling. There is nothing wrong with technology, but currently the average American watches over 32 hours of TV a week. There is nothing wrong with TV but is it possible that it is stealing our effectiveness from God? The average Canadian has over $27,000 in consumer debt. Is it possible that our addiction to stuff is stopping us, as part of the wealthiest people on the planet, from being a part of blessing others?
The last danger of technology was found in its ability to create a lack of listening. A faithful rendering of Genesis 11:7 is as follows: “Come let us go down and give them different languages. That way they won’t be able to listen to one another” I think this is what technology can do. It can stop us from truly listening to one another. We can forget to engage in conversations, and check our phones. We can forget to talk with our spouses, and turn on the TV.
So on Sunday the point wasn’t the evil of technology. The point was to recognize that it is shaping our lives for good or bad. And some of the negative ways is that it causes us to become prideful, resistant to God, and forget to listen to each other. So I gave a challenge to the church – give up technology as best you can this week. Put away the phone, the tablet, and the TV and give that time to God and those significant relationships in your life. Through this you might realize you don’t need it quite as much as you think, and find your life fuller. So with that said – my blog posts might not be as frequent this week 😉
Big Idea: Technology shapes us for good and bad
- Technology shapes our lives
- Technology allows new possibilities
- Technology has the tendency to separate and confuse our relationship with God and each other.
- We create technology as monuments to our greatness
- Technology can increase our sense of ownership
- Technology in this story breeds resistance and distance from God
- The 4 dangers of technology in this story are:
- + Pride
- + Sense of Personal Ownership of Communal Items
- + Resistance to God
- + We stop listening
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? Have you ever though of a brick as technology before? Have you ever been caught up in “getting stuff” as a monument to yourself? Which of the four dangers of technology do you think you struggle with most? Which is the most dangerous for you? How much does technology shape your life? How easy will it be for you to give up for a week?
Discussion Questions for Young Families: Share with your kids the good things about technology, but also some of the difficult things. Talk about how we can get prideful in what we have, we can stop listening to one another, and we can stop being together. Tell them you are going to try putting away technology for the week and to be together. Maybe buy a new board game, go for walks, go to the park, paint, create, and share time together
Challenge for this Week: Give up technology for a week, as best you can.