Friday, July 29, 2011

Seven Metaphors From Technology

TITLE: Seven Spiritual Metaphors from Technology
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 29 July 2011

I have been a user of technology as well as a technologist for many years. One of my favourite topics remains the faith and technology category. As I ponder about the current technology available, I find it fascinating to see spiritual lessons and metaphors we can learn. Here are 7 of them.

1) GPS - Global Positioning Unit (Attentiveness)

"Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not." (Proverbs 8:33)

The Global Positioning Unit has long been used by the government and military sources to track targets on earth, using satellites placed strategically thousands of miles up in space. It is now a common sight to see drivers in cars having GPS units in their vehicles to navigate their routes. As long as one has a GPS unit, loaded with the local maps, one can literally drive to the destination according to the fastest time, the shortest route, or whatever the driver chooses. One trait in modern GPS units is that the moment one drives out of the original route, the GPS automatically ‘re-calculate new routes.’ Each time the driver makes a wrong turn, the GPS gears into action. I wonder. What if our spiritual lives are constantly guided by an inner GPS? If we sin, let our inner GPS re-calculate our lives. If we make a wrong decision, let the GPS tell us so. Let our lives be guided by a constant awareness and attentiveness to God’s leading. Whenever we make a wrong turn, our inner GPS will trigger off a ‘re-calculating route’ and to get back on track.

Key Traits: Cultivate Attentiveness. Awareness of the Divine God in our daily activities. Openness to correction by people around us.

2) iPad Tablet Finger Swiping technology (Compassion to people)

"But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now." (2 Kings 13:23, NAS)

Gone are the days of waiting for our computers to boot up. The use of the mouse and the keyboard for reading on computer screens are dispensed with. With one finger and one swipe, one can turn pages, or to navigate digital content easily. No need to click. No need to type. Just touch. Thanks to modern touch screen technology that has become widely affordable. In case my readers are unaware, the iPad, and most tablet devices are made to be heat sensitive, particularly the warmth generated by the hands. If you take a pen to try to swipe the iPad screen, nothing happens. When you use your hands or fingers to touch the screen, the tablet responds powerfully according to your touch. What if our spiritual lives are more sensitive to the good things, the leading of God? What if we are able to prioritize the more important things in life, and not react to trivial matters that have made life a drag?

KET TRAITS: Sensitivity to the touch of the Divine God. Sensitive to respond to the human touch, rather than to harp endlessly at trivial principles or mundane of life. Have compassion.

3) Use the Facebook ‘Like’ often: Quick, Easy and Likable

"Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble." (Isaiah 35:3, NAS)

I confess. I am rather stingy in giving compliments. Sometimes that is because I want to process my feelings first, so that I can really mean what I say. What if there is a way where I can give a quick compliment, without costing me too much time? Enters the LIKE button in Facebook. Facebook offers a quick and easy way for us to offer encouragement without spending too much time writing long words or quote powerful phrases.

KEY TRAITS: Encouragement with a quick Like.

4) Pray like Twittering

"Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!" (Ps 38:22, NAS)

We like to twitter. We like things in snippets. We like to update our lives one small bit at a time in this busy busy world. What about short prayers?

One reason why some find praying such a chore is that they have equated prayers with long flowery prose uttered by some priests, or spiritual leaders. They think that prayers need to be of a certain length, said in a certain manner, and voiced by a heart that is in tune with God. Wrong. Prayers can be as short as 2 words: “Help me!”

Another reason why Twitter has become so popular is because it offers a way for people to update their status in short snippets. Ideally, we will like to have personal sharing as much as possible. However, in our busy life, it is often necessary to limit our time to update our friends with short quotes. Not only does it take less time for one to share, it also takes little effort for friends to read. It is a win-win approach. Prayer snippets can be adopted Twitter-style.
  • “Lord, be with Jessica during this difficult time.”
  • “Lord, grant Tim the peace and wisdom as he goes for his job interview this morning.”
  • “Lord, I am out of ideas. Please help.”
  • “Lord, I do not know what to do with my son. He seems so wayward. Grant me wisdom to know how to talk to him.”

Prayers need not be long. It can be very short. Not many of us can say long prayers. All of us should be able to do short prayers. Twitter style to God.

KEY TRAITS: Praying is not difficult. It need not be long and flowery. Short prayers are often preferred and we can cultivate our prayerfulness through prayers, twitter-style.

5) Is there WiFi here? (Outreach)

"But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4:11, NIV)

One modern phenomenon is the constant desire to be connected to the Internet. Studies have shown that wanting an Internet connection is increasingly a must-have in a social networking world. If one is not able to be connected, one cannot do Facebook, or Twittering, or any forms of electronic communications. Having a WiFi connection is key. Better still, a free WiFi is most desirable. Like a constant lookout for WiFi signals, what about training our minds to be on a constant lookout for opportunities to share the gospel of Christ?

KEY TRAITS: Keep a watchful disposition to see how God’s grace and good news can be shared. For those of us constantly on a lookout for WiFi connections, what about praying for a human connection opportunity everywhere we go?

6) Download (Bible, Meditation)

"Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You." (Ps 119:11)

Have we downloaded God’s word into our hearts? Have we downloaded the Word of God not only in our digital devices, but simply to enjoy reading, meditating, and practicing it? We download lost of stuff daily. We download apps, articles, movies, Youtube clips, music and so on. As we download stuff, remind ourselves that we need to do something about the download, otherwise it simply sucks up space in our memory devices. Remember that downloaded stuff as nothing unless we make use of them.

Likewise, download the Word of God not just into our digital gadgets. Those everyone can do. Instead, download the Word of God into our heads and our hearts so that it can dwell inside of us. Meditate on them. Memorize them. Make use of them by putting the Word into practice. The late John Stott once said:

‎"For Jesus did not give us an academic treatise calculated merely to stimulate the mind. I believe he meant his Sermon on the Mount to be obeyed." (John Stott)

KEY TRAITS: Put the Word of God into our minds and our hearts. Read the Word regularly. Meditate and memorize them. Remember that the Word of God is not meant to be downloaded and stored. It is to be downloaded and OBEYED.

7) Blogging and Youtube (Praise God with Our All)

"And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD." (Ps 27:6)

One of the reasons why social networking is hot now, is because it offers an economical avenue for people to express themselves, to self-publish, and to register a digital presence. That way, anyone with an Internet connection around the world can see your work online. Popular reality shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and many others have joined the bandwagon of self-expression. It is a quick and cheap ticket to stardom and instant recognition. Many individuals have found worldwide fame simply by posting a Youtube video, or when one’s blog post goes viral.

KEY TRAITS: Blogging and Youtube technologies offer all for self-expression, and a chance to be real. Be real to God. Be real to people. Be real to self.

As you use technology, let it be a reminder that we can practice spirituality on the go.


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