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FIRST-PERSON: Wisdom in the digital age

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NASHVILLE (BP) – As my pastor recently said, the church has “an information overload and an obedience deficit.” The reality of the digital age is that we often know certain truths about God, who we are as His creatures, and other theological truths, but then fail to live out those beliefs, especially in light of the technological challenges we face today. We know more information than ever before, but we so often fail to be obedient to how God calls us to live in light of those truths. Or said another way, God can show us the truth and reorient us toward the better path as revealed in the wisdom books, but we can still fail to actually walk down it.

Many of the digital tools we use each day are designed to make our lives easier or more efficient, but they regularly fail to push us toward greater discernment and wisdom. Wisdom is not instant or efficient especially in the digital age. It is cultivated over time and is something to be pursued above all and cherished. When faced with these immediate challenges, we tend to clamor for new tips, tricks, tools, and apps to solve the very problems brought on by the technology itself in the name of efficiency rather than slowing down and seeking wisdom.

To overcome these tendencies toward greater efficiency and to cultivate a life of wisdom, we not only need to see how technology is shaping how we view ourselves and people around us, but also how technology is designed in ways that easily give way to division and ratchet up tension. The recovery of wisdom is not going to be easy and, to some, it may look like a retreat from the divisions of the day, but wisdom calls us to take the long view rather than always trying to seek the immediate reward or gratification of the digital age.

As Ecclesiastes 9:17 says, “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” Wisdom then may not be in vogue or popular in certain places today, but it is essential to the Christian life and is to be pursued at all costs – after all, it was pursued at all costs by Christ Himself.

Do you remember how he carried Himself in the synagogue? With a wisdom the world did not understand – with a way of thinking and handling Himself that confounded his listeners (Mark 6:2). Jesus Himself preached and practiced heavenly wisdom, a way of looking at life and a way of living that seems backwards to the world. And as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:14, Christ is the very wisdom of God. Given this emphasis on wisdom, how much more should we slow down and examine our lives through wisdom, especially in our digital age where everything seems to be driven by speed and efficiency?

Through wisdom, we can cultivate a biblical worldview that helps us see through the allure of our modern society and technology to the core of the problems we face. And by seeing technology as more than simply a tool that we use, we can begin to see the patterns and habits that are being formed in us as we seek to reorient our lives in line with Godly wisdom. This involves understanding how technology is discipling or shaping us, including how we not only view ourselves but also our neighbors as created in God’s likeness.

Excerpted with permission from Following Jesus in a Digital Age by Jason Thacker. Copyright 2022, B&H Publishing.

    About the Author

  • Jason Thacker/ERLC
    Jason Thacker serves as chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
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