My husband and I recently took a week-long vacation unplugged. Literally, we turned our phones off, locked them in the safe and didn’t see them again until we returned home. It was glorious! My husband had even printed maps to all the places we might want to go just so we would never have to use our phones for GPS.
I knew this piece of technology had been overwhelming my life with all its must have apps, constant messages, and the social media lure with the inevitable hook on the end. For a solid week, the fishing line had been cut and the hook removed, but upon our return, it didn’t take long to plug back in.
I have been wrestling in my conviction about the use of technology and social media lately. I’ve witnessed and experienced its cons often and seldom its pros. During this hiatus, however, I thought a lot about an article I read several months ago by Jen Wilkin titled, “Beware the Instagram Bible in 2017.” In the article, Wilkin exposes the nature of posting Bible verses on Instagram with those cute Etsy-like, flowery borders as something to be wary of. She writes:
“If the prosperity gospel offered us all the things, the Instagram gospel offers us all the feels. It preaches good news in part, but we need the whole. It may move us in the moment, but it cannot sustain us through the storm.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. As I sat still and quiet listening to waves crash on the other side of the dune contemplating the liberty I felt from the ball and chain that was my phone, I considered her words of caution to extend beyond the Instagram Bible, but to the Instagram Community and the Instagram Church.
How hungry we are for the Truth, yet we settle for picture-perfect verses, no more than 140 characters to feed our souls like carbonated water.
How desperate we are for fellowship, yet we settle for comments and likes to validate the number in our close circle of friends.
How thirsty we are for sound doctrine, yet we settle for fake news, theology blogs and articles to pastor our theologically emaciated souls.
Like Wilkin, I see the value in technology, in social media, and even Instagram pictures of scripture (let’s be honest: I’ve posted my fair share!), but I also see, perhaps with fresh eyes now, the leery lure of those things, too. It’s hard to notice the power these things have over us while using them. Technology, and certainly social media, elicits addictive behaviors from us, and never satisfies. It’s understandable why the Instagram Bible, Community or Church is alluring: it’s quick, easy, already prepared, requires no commitment, holds no accountability, and requires no labor – it’s cheap.
Since our vacation, I have plugged back in to my phone, but I have been far more careful and deliberate in when I use it and to what purpose. I have also seen how easy it is to slip into old habits, checking messages or social media before bed or first thing in the morning before I’ve even spent time in the Word.
But, as I recognize those habits creeping back in I tackle them with disciplinary restrictions. In doing so, I have felt freedom to sit long in the Word and enjoy fellowship with others with less of a need to frequently check my phone. In many ways, I have simply felt freedom in everyday life.
In other ways, I feel as though I’ve gone rogue – abandoning the ways of the world around me but living a little more abundantly. My challenge to other women is simply this: unplug from your phones, iPads, and computers for a season and saturate yourselves in God’s Word and His community. You’ll recognize unhealthy habits you’ve unknowingly formed and find ways to discipline yourself to avoid those in the future.
You’ll find those flowery verses, though beautiful, are no more important than the verses detailing lineage and the dos and don’ts of the Law. You’ll find it’s far more encouraging to have one quality conversation with a brother or sister than receiving 100 likes on your latest “coffee mug and Bible” Instagram pic. You’ll even find that receiving instruction and reproof through the preaching of the Word side-by-side your brothers and sisters in corporate worship is richer than sharing 100 theology articles or sermons on Facebook even though they’re great resources.
Take some time to go rogue this summer. And even when you plug back in, remain a woman of the Word – unplugged!