We tend to react to new technologies in one of two ways: Wide-eyed terror or breathless excitement. Some people look at that new gadget and see it as the enemy, the latest in a long line of innovations that really only undermine our humanity or captivate us with bells and whistles. These people are suspicious and usually longing for times that have long since gone by—times when technologies were just so much simpler. Other people look at the new gizmo and see it bursting with the possibility of happiness or enrichment or social advancement. These people are exuberant and always longing for the better and happier times ahead—times when technologies will be just so much more advanced. Neither one is thinking quite right.
If technology is wealth, we are the richest generation that has ever lived.
Last year I spoke at a conference with Matt Perman and he helpfully summarized a key concept when it comes to technology: Technology is wealth. Technology is a form of wealth and, like every other form of wealth, one that Christians are responsible to steward. If technology is wealth, we are the richest generation that has ever lived. You are richer than you think.
As Christians we are in the business of doing good to others. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). That is our calling and our privilege as believers: To bring glory to God by doing good to others, and to bring more glory to God by doing more good to others. In Christ we have been freed from sin so we can now do good works—not the works that earn us salvation, but the works that display our salvation. Little wonder, then, that in his letter to Titus Paul can command us to be good works zealots, to be utterly consumed with doing good deeds.
Opportunities to do good come at a million different moments and in a million different forms, but the theme is always the same: looking and living outside ourselves to do what benefits others. We give of our skills, our talents, our money, our energy, our possessions, and even that most precious of commodities, our time. We faithfully steward all of these things, attempting to use them in a way that glorifies God.
And that brings us back to technology. If technology is wealth, we are responsible for faithfully stewarding it by using it to do good to others. Technology offers countless opportunities to do this. This was true of past technologies: the technology of the Roman road allowed missionaries to move quickly, spreading the gospel across the entire known world; the technology of the book allowed even the most common person access to God’s Word; the technology of radio broadcast the good news about Jesus to the world’s most distant regions. However and wherever new technologies have arisen, Christians have used them to do good to others and bring glory to God. Not only that, but Christians have felt responsible to use them to do good to others and bring glory to God.
Not one of these technologies was perfect. Each one of them changed us in some unfortunate and unforeseen ways. Still, Christians used them and used them well. And today we are responsible to use our abundance of technologies well. This does not necessarily mean that we need to fully and unthinkingly embrace whatever is new and innovative and shiny. It does not mean that every form of technology is good and worthy of our time and attention. However, it does mean that we at least need to evaluate whatever is new and innovative and shiny. We need to evaluate with our eyes wide open, looking for the inevitable strengths and equally inevitable risks that come with that technology. And we need to consider how we can best use this newfound technological wealth. These technologies are ones we can and must use to do good for others and bring glory to God.
So take a look at the abundance of technology in your church, in your home, and in your pocket. Consider just how wealthy you are. And then ask the question: How will I use this extravagant wealth to do good to others and glorify God?