Technology’s Good and Evils and the Tower of Babel

towerofbabelOn Sunday we explored a piece of underrated and life changing piece of technology: the brick. We explored how the story of Babel found in Genesis 11 isn’t just about God scattering but God’s response to technology and how it shapes us.

So what we discovered is that the people were moving eastward. Yet the people began to settle. In essence they began to move away from their nomadic roots. And with their “rootedness” they began to create something of permanence that wasn’t a possibility before. They wanted to create a Tower. Yet the only reason this becomes a possibility is through technological innovation: the creation of a brick. Bricks are uniform, they are mass-producible, and functional. They open up the ability to building projects never even dreamed of before.

Yet we read of the motives behind their building project. It says this in Genesis 11:4-5 ““Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies – a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world”. Here we get a glimpse how technology can shape us. It can influence us to create monuments to our own greatness. There is nothing wrong with creation, creativity, and innovation (in fact God commands it in Genesis 1-3). What is wrong though is creating out of a desire to prove our own greatness rather than a response to God’s goodness.

Technology has a tendency to infect and increase our pride. Look at how people strive for the better car, phone, house, or cool gadget so that they feel secure. These are the same emotions and insecurities that drove people thousands of years ago to make the Tower of Babel. We desire our own permanency, and monuments to our greatness but the message of the text is that in chasing after those things we end up scattered and alone. This is true in our day and age today.

The second danger is technology can distract us from God’s calling. Up until this point in the narrative the calling has been to move, and fill the earth. Now though people are settling and creating monuments to their greatness. And I think while our times are different technology still today separates us from God’s calling. There is nothing wrong with technology, but currently the average American watches over 32 hours of TV a week. There is nothing wrong with TV but is it possible that it is stealing our effectiveness from God? The average Canadian has over $27,000 in consumer debt. Is it possible that our addiction to stuff is stopping us, as part of the wealthiest people on the planet, from being a part of blessing others?

The last danger of technology was found in its ability to create a lack of listening. A faithful rendering of Genesis 11:7 is as follows: “Come let us go down and give them different languages. That way they won’t be able to listen to one another” I think this is what technology can do. It can stop us from truly listening to one another. We can forget to engage in conversations, and check our phones. We can forget to talk with our spouses, and turn on the TV.

So on Sunday the point wasn’t the evil of technology. The point was to recognize that it is shaping our lives for good or bad. And some of the negative ways is that it causes us to become prideful, resistant to God, and forget to listen to each other. So I gave a challenge to the church – give up technology as best you can this week. Put away the phone, the tablet, and the TV and give that time to God and those significant relationships in your life. Through this you might realize you don’t need it quite as much as you think, and find your life fuller. So with that said – my blog posts might not be as frequent this week 😉

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Technology shapes us for good and bad

Take Aways…

  • Technology shapes our lives
  • Technology allows new possibilities
  • Technology has the tendency to separate and confuse our relationship with God and each other.
  • We create technology as monuments to our greatness
  • Technology can increase our sense of ownership
  • Technology in this story breeds resistance and distance from God
  • The 4 dangers of technology in this story are:
    • + Pride
    • + Sense of Personal Ownership of Communal Items
    • + Resistance to God
    • + We stop listening

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? Have you ever though of a brick as technology before? Have you ever been caught up in “getting stuff” as a monument to yourself? Which of the four dangers of technology do you think you struggle with most? Which is the most dangerous for you? How much does technology shape your life? How easy will it be for you to give up for a week?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Share with your kids the good things about technology, but also some of the difficult things. Talk about how we can get prideful in what we have, we can stop listening to one another, and we can stop being together. Tell them you are going to try putting away technology for the week and to be together. Maybe buy a new board game, go for walks, go to the park, paint, create, and share time together

Challenge for this Week: Give up technology for a week, as best you can.

Irresponsibility Kills Roots

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On Sunday we explored a key to all our relationships: responsibility. The truth is that if we want to have deep relationships, if we want to have solid friendships, if we want to have healthy roots in our families, we need to learn to be responsible. Irresponsibility kills roots and kills relationships.

My guess is that in your family and friends the people who bug you the most are in some way irresponsible. They aren’t owning and being accountable for their own stuff. Because the reality is, that whenever someone is irresponsible, someone else has to pick up the slack. So on Sunday we explored this theme of irresponsibility and looked at the first family in Adam and Eve.

What we discovered is that irresponsibility is really easy to see in someone else, but really hard to see in ourselves. So we asked ourselves, “Are we being responsible in our relationships?” Through the story of Adam and Eve we discovered some signs of irresponsibility. The first is blame. Whenever we start blaming, we are trying to shift responsibility. Adam blames Eve for eating the fruit, Eve blames the serpent, and people have been blaming ever since. But if we want healthy relationships we need to stop blaming and start owning our issues. The second sign of irresponsibility is when people start hiding. Whenever you start hiding conversations, maybe your spending, or where you are spending your time there is a responsibility problem. Adam and Eve, right after they eat the fruit, hide so that they don’t need to take responsibility. We need though to stand up and stop hiding and start owning our mistakes, failures, and become accountable. The last sign of irresponsibility was if we are creating new rules. Rules are created to curb irresponsibility, although they never really work. After Adam and Eve’s failure the story of the Bible is really a story of creation of many new rules to curb bad behavior. Finally, with Jesus the rules get thrown out (the Law) and he gives us the task of being responsible (loving God and others). So the point is that if we are needing to create lots of new rules in our families, friendships, or even businesses there is a responsibility problem that needs to be dealt with.

So we ended off asking people to honestly think through this question: “Am I being responsible” Because being responsible in relationships leads to deep roots. And I think that’s what we want. Relationships that last, thrive, and are healthy and whole. But that only happens when we start taking responsibility.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Responsibility leads to deep roots

Take Aways…

  • Irresponsibility always leads to more rules
  • Irresponsibility is easy to see in someone else and hard to see in yourself
  • Am I honestly being responsible in my relationships
  • When people are responsible rules aren’t needed
  • Whenever rules are broken consequences soon follow
  • Signs of Irresponsibility in a Relationship
    • Blaming
    • Hiding
    • Creating New Rules
  • Rules never create responsibility
  • Responsibility leads to deep roots
  • Ways to build responsibility:
    • Stop hiding and start dealing with things
    • Stop blaming and start owning things
    • Stop creating new rules and start taking responsibility

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? Were there any stories or examples Andrew used that you could relate too? As you look in your own life are there any areas where you blame, or hide? Are there things you are being irresponsible with? How can you stand up and start taking responsibility for them?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk with your kids about rules and responsibility. Ask them if they’d like to live without rules. Tell them that if they’d like less rules, they need to take more responsibility. Talk to them about how being responsible (doing what is right) builds trust and you need less rules. Use some recent examples either good or bad from your own family life about how to illustrate this. Talk to them about giving them more freedom as they show more responsibility.

Challenge for this Week:

Take responsibility in your relationships

Birthday’s, Blessings, and Books

I always found the stories in the Bible of the father’s blessing their sons a little weird. Just read in Genesis and you see it all the time. I pictured this weird ceremony where they would kneel or something and have these words spoken over them. I didn’t get it.

Then I had a son.

Yesterday was Hudson’s birthday. He’s two. He’s almost a man now. And I bought him one of the coolest kids books ever called stuck.

The book is great about things getting stuck in a tree. On the inside though I wrote a long note to Hudson, that I read to him now and I hope he’ll read later too. I wrote about how heis so fun and wonderful. I wrote about why I love him, what good things I see inside him. I wrote where I see him going. I spoke into his life words of trust and promise. And at the end I promised that no matter what happens, and no matter what gets “stuck”, I’d be there.

So I talked about his past, present, future and where I’ll be in all of it.

When I was done writing it – I knew what I would then do. Whether he gets it or not, we’re making a blanket fort. We’re crawling in it. We’re getting his Thomas the train engine flash light and cuddling up close together. And I am reading / speaking this blessing over him, because that’s what it is. It’s a blessing just like in the Old Testament where father’s would speak over their sons, shaping them, building into them, and creating hope. And maybe the Old Testament fathers didn’t say they’re blessing under blanket forts. For me though, the point is not where or when you bless someone but the actual act of taking time to speak blessing and life into someone.

So here’s my challenge to you. Bless someone else. Mother’s bless daughters. Father’s bless sons. Friends bless each other. Make it a habit and make it meaningful. Because for today more than any other day, I get why it matters. Because there is something powerful in sharing where someone is at, what you see in them, and where you see them going.

So why not share something meaningful with someone. Share why they matter, share who they are, and share blessing…