Over the last few months I have been writing quite regularly about the changes to our way of life that are occurring due to technology. Current improvements in technology have drastically changed the way we live, the way we relate, the way we receive and process information. And, technology has become a major issue in the field of addiction as many people are seriously addicted and dependant upon technology.
So if you want to change the way you relate to technology and social media, then I encourage you to consider the story of someone who asked Jesus for help when he needed to be healed. In John 5:1-15, we’re told how one day Jesus approached the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, a place where sick people gathered. There were people who were blind, likely lame people. And possibly someone who was paralyzed.
These people gathered and waited patiently because they believed an angel would stir up the water causes bubbles to rise. Like people for centuries before and since and in many places, the people of Jerusalem believed the bubbly waters had healing powers, and needy people embraced the legend that the first person in the water would be healed.
One guy stood out as Jesus approached the crowd of hurting people, a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Thirty-eight years. We can only imagine how hard this guy’s life was. For thirty-eight years, he couldn’t work. For thirty-eight years, he couldn’t walk. For thirty-eight years, he was dependent on other people to do everything we do ourselves and take for granted. Thirty-eight days of suffering is difficult to endure. Thirty-eight years must have seemed like an eternity.
This reality makes Jesus’ question to this man stand out even more. “When Jesus saw him lying there He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well” (John 5:6 emphasis added). What kind of question is that to ask a guy who’s been unable to walk for almost four decades? This question seems insensitive, almost insulting. It’s like asking a broke guy if he wants to win the lottery. It’s like asking a hungry guy if he wants a year’s worth of free food at his favourite restaurant. Why would Jesus ask such an obvious question?
Because Jesus needed to know if the guy really wanted to change.
Because Jesus knew this guy needed o know for himself if he really wanted to change.
Did he really want to get well?
Now, you may be a bit like me. You have a love-hate relationship with technology. You love it for all the obvious reasons. But you hate that it consumes you and that your default action in any slow moment of life is to start going click, swipe, swipe, swipe., swipe.
Maybe you’ve had a problem with technology for a while. It’s distracting you from those in front of you. People you care about often complain because you’re staring at your phone and not listening to them. You can’t go an hour without checking your device. If you don’t have it with you at all times, you feel lost, vulnerable, and anxious. Maybe your identity is wrapped up in Likes, comments, and retweets. If you gain a follower, you’re happy. But if you loser one, you get upset. You know you shouldn’t be like this, but you are. And when you’re honest, it bothers you.
If you’ve been chained to this addition for a while, you might recognize three major challenges that make it harder to break free.
1> The longer a problem persists, the more discouraged you become.
For thirty-eight years, nothing changed for the poor guy at the pool of Bethesda. Similarly, for who knows how long, you device may have been keeping you from being fully alive in Christ. Maybe you’ve tried to manage it, but you can’t. So you’re tempted to resign yourself to it, saying, “Hey, everyone else is tied to theirs, right? So this is just the way life is going to be. I wish I could change, but we all know that will never happen.”
2> The longer a problem persists, the more excuses you make.
When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be well, the man relied, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred” (John 5:7). He explained to Jesus that because he had no help, everyone else races by him, leaving him stranded without any hope. Maybe this describes where you are today. You want to change, and you secretly hope that somehow God will help you. But you also know it’s easier to just wait by the pool and make excuses than to crawl over and dive in. You may be saying things like this:
- “I can’t live without my phone for an hour, much less a whole day.”
- “It’s just the way life is today. Staying current is too important to me.”
- “Besides, I tried to unplug once, but it just wasn’t worth it.”
3> The longer a problem persists, the more you learn to compensate.
Just like the functional alcoholic who manages to perform work on the job while being a wrecking ball at home, you may be able to get around your techno-dysfunction. You keep passing your classes. You keep getting your job done. And by all means, you keep current on what’s happening in other people’s lives and still manage to make time for the perfect Sunday Selfie.
But your life is full of things that aren’t satisfying you.
You know there has to be more.
You long for it, but you don’t know where to find it.
So here’s the bottom line: you cannot change what you are willing to tolerate. If you just sort of don’t like it, the problem won’t go away. Not ever. If you’re willing to put up with it, things will never be different. You have to get to the point where you’re no longer afraid of what you might miss out on. You have to refuse to miss out on what — and who — is right in front of you.
So, do you want to be healed and set free from your addiction to technology?