There are Christians, both throughout history and currently in countries like North Korea, who have been imprisoned or even killed their faith… even when they had very limited access to the bible — and sometimes almost no formal preaching. I remember hearing a story once about Christians (in China, I think?) who kept the faith through extreme persecution by passing around a shred of the gospel of John.
Yet here I am – feeling the need to almost constantly listen to sermons and worship songs, or read my bible and Tim Keller books, just to maintain a bare minimum affection for God. Why is it so difficult for me to believe when I have unprecedented access to the best sermons, Christian music of any genre, and theological books that have tackled some of the most difficult questions of life and my faith? And it’s not even like I have some tragic life to push through. Yes, I have disappointments and failures and mini-heartbreaks here and there – but all together, I have an absurdly blessed and easy life.
So what’s the deal — are these Christians inherently more passionate than spoiled little millennials such as myself?
Not to minimize the great faith of Christians who are persecuted or martyred, or make excuses for little ol’ me, but I wonder if – despite having an overall lower access to truth – something that helps set Christians in history (or Christians in other countries) apart from Christians like me is an enhanced signal (truth) to noise (deceptions, distortions, distractions).
Yes, I have an unprecedented opportunity to research and study the word of God, and connect with Christians all over the world. But I also have an unprecedented opportunity to binge on tv shows, drown in information from podcasts, and be torched with opinions from wagging tongues all over the world. Noise, noise, noise.
Set in this context, the truth signal – although drastically increased – is still struggling to just blip above the noise threshold – which has also drastically increased. Technology has simply turned up the volume for everything – background noise and signal alike.
Well, lucky for me/us, signal to noise is a ratio. Which means I have more than one way to change the overall value. I can work on the ol’ denominator and make strides to reduce the noise. Go on “unplugged” walks without my phone, turn off the radio when I’m driving, set aside time to meditate and pray each day. Or, I can work on the ol’ numerator, and increase the noise. Listen to Ben Stuart podcasts during my commute, seek out mentors who speak nothing but hard yet joyous truths to me, commit myself to Christian community and actually *studying* God’s words. Or a radical third option would be to do both – reduce noise and increase signal! ⚡️⚡️⚡️
Technology isn’t inherently good or evil, and it’s here to stay. Yes, we can try to embrace the way of the Amish and reject it completely because it has the potential to bring harm into our lives. Or we can think of it as a tool that we can harness for good, and discipline ourselves to avoid the drawbacks.
May we all do all that we can to keep the flame burning in our crazy, ridiculous, often-wicked-oriented hearts 🙂