To have a picture of the ultimate is to contextualize, appreciate and endure the realities of the immediate. And for disciples of Jesus Christ, the ultimate picture is that they are temporary residence, aliens and strangers to the world around them, and they are destined for praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ in the end times.
Their title of foreigner stems from their differing ethic to those around them as well as to the spiritual reality that they have been given a new birth into a living hope, born of imperishable seed, and destined for eternal life in a restored creation.
For the practicing Christian, a chief encouragement to continue on in suffering for the faith (from refusing premarital sex to refusing to renounce Christ as Lord) and thereby living reverent and holy lives is to keep this end in mind (see 1 Peter 1). But what effort does it take to do so, and what becomes of a person if they fail to do so? And what role does Steve Jobs play in this?
If anyone is to focus on the whole of their life, they must include considering the end.
But to consider the end is to think (presumably) in a thoughtful, long-term manner. This is the effort that it takes to keep the end in mind.
However, there is a new stimulus that is making it harder for us as millennials to hold onto such long-term and intentional thought, and therefore our ability to contextualize the present is being impaired. But if we forget the context of the now, what happens when the present is not very enjoyable? We diverge from it, and diverging from a present that is un-enjoyable because of our faith means to conform to our old, empty ways of life — to succumb to evil and fleeting passions and short-sighted decision making.
The “new stimulus” that is causing this impairment is our smartphones and the immediate information they supply.
Nicholas Carr, NY Times bestseller and avid writer on business, technology and culture says, “Information technology is changing our brains, making us less focused and less capable of deep thought.” An article produced by Alabama State University reported that, “Deep thinking, contemplation, and reflection are getting short shrift in this instant access culture.” And during her Connected, But Alone? TED talk, Sherry Turkle said, “Our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are.”
Those who study the effect of innovative technology on the mind unanimously agree that it is not the device per se that is the influencer of our changed thought lives but rather the information delivered through them. We immerse ourselves in completely different realities and stories in mere moments. We check the weather, read the news, play a game, and glimpse into the painted lives of our friends with no buffer in between.
We are immersed in varying contexts that would never occur in real life. But once we experience it, we begin to crave it, hence the reason that the average college student checks their phone every 15 minutes or less.
Not only are our minds suffering – we now crave that which makes them suffer.
Combatting this mind-altering effect may or may not mean selling your smartphone and reverting back to the Razor. “Drastic” measures are not off the table, considering that there is tangible evidence to show that our minds are being transformed so that a chief encouragement from scripture, designed to keep us living according to the Spirit, is becoming more difficult to heed.
Knowledge of the formative power of information-submerging is vital for restoration. This repair may look like assigning times for concentrated effort and times suitable for phone usage or setting moments aside of uninterrupted meditation on future-oriented scripture. It may even look like going back to the 10s with a Motorola.
Whatever restitution looks like for the individual, ensure to not take lightly the importance of keeping our end as believers in mind. To lose sight of Christ’s coming is to forget why we refuse sin, and to forget why we refuse sin is to eventually succumb to temptation and the death that accompanies it.
Guest Writer: Logan Vlandis is a rising senior at Liberty University and is studying project management and communications. He is fascinated with the cultural implications of worldviews and studies thinkers from both modernity and antiquity. When he isn’t studying, writing, or working, he’s eating Mexican food with friends. He aspires to bring the hope of the gospel to the professional business world.