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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:4-5).

Per Wikipedia (how ironic), Mike Daisey is an acclaimed American monologist, actor and social commentator best known for his full-length extemporaneous monologues . In this Daily Ticker piece (found on Yahoo Finance), Daisey tells us what all astute followers of Christ and Bible students know; people worship technology. Read, watch, and listen for yourself:

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: Mike Daisey Says Technology Is ‘New Religion’ | Daily Ticker – Yahoo! Finance

It’s really not an outlandish idea that Dasiey is promoting here. The love of technology mimics the following of a religion. In this paradigm, Steve Jobs is worshipped like a saint and the products and services created by these inventors are adored (people stand in long lines at the break of dawn for this stuff). It has come to the point that many “can’t live without” their Smartphone, tablet, notebook, iPod, or Kindle. They go nowhere without their gadgets much like one would carry a copy of the Scriptures with them at all times. The information and amusement (After quickly becoming addicted, I believe Crazy Birds to be the spawn of Satan) derived from these small electronic boxes can become central to a person’s time, interests, and even motivation. They have become a type of religious artifact and many’s passions are to be found in their pursuit of the latest technology trend or application. I guess wi-fi would represent the Holy Spirit in this “new religion.”

To say the least, the use of technology has attempted to replace (or facilitate, for you techies) a myriad of essential human activities (even though using technology certainly involves human activity). Via technology, we have replaced human intimacy with images and typed words. We have allowed technology to “shortcut” the learning process by replacing analyzing and cognition (understanding) with information accumulation. We have allowed technology to be the slave-master called amusement (the word has 2 components; “a” meaning “not” and “muse” meaning “think.” When combined, the word means “not to think.”) Tragically, our heart’s main focus has often become our “hardware” and replaced more important spiritual pursuits. When we count the time and energy devoted to them, it’s clear that sometimes our gadgets have become our gods.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think technology is inherently evil any more than the silver dollar sitting on my dresser. After all, I’m typing this on a desktop (OK, now you know how “uncool” I really am) and will post this article on my blog so that it will be exposed to billions through the “miracle” of the internet. I own an iPhone and my books can be found in an eReader formats. I’ve even been know to (legally, I must add) download Christian music from iTunes so that I can listen and be encouraged no matter where I am. I must confess that I get a bit of an adrenaline rush when I can find helpful information while browsing the internet on my Smartphone and never leave the couch. Also, I have more than once coveted the 4G speed that I don’t have. And I often use my most treasured gadget – the TV remote control (Or have we forgotten that is a form of technology too?).

No, we probably don’t see Androids displayed on mantels nor do we physically bow down to our laptops, but idolatry involves more than a wood carving, golden calf, or a “graven image.” It is something that has become central in our life. An idol is something that controls us, our time, interests, and affections. Having a false god is when we care more for something that has been created than the Creator (God) Himself. And when we believe that technology is the solution (“eventually technology will fix everything”) then it has become a savior. Instead we are called to, “love the Lord [our] God with all your heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind and with all [our] strength” (Mark 12:30).

Now I’m not suggesting that Christ-followers eradicate all uses of technology (Excuse me as I pause…I just got a text from my Pastor).  This is impractical in modern society and many of our jobs demand it. But this discussion does bring into question where our devotion lies (which is usually correlated with what we spend our disposable time, money, and thoughts on). I’m thinking a Christian response cannot mindlessly let these tools control us nor can we outright reject them. Rather, I believe that we must seek to redeem technology (see Colossians 4:2-6, where “redeeming” is often translated “making the best us of”). This means, when such is the case, unveiling it as an idol and dethroning it by bringing any unhealthy and unholy activity under the Lordship of Christ. However, we must also, after embracing our God as the only one worthy of our adoration and worship, be good stewards of these advancements, use them for the expanse of His kingdom, and multiply our effectiveness. Let us not treat our gadgets as gods but let us never forget that using them in a way that glorifies Him is a worthwhile use of the technology at our disposal.

As Paul said,To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22-27).

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).*

*You will need your Bible for this study. If I copied all the texts this post would be a small book.

Isaiah 40 contains a passage that many Christians hold dear. We often cling to verses 29-31 when we are exhausted in our journey to follow Jesus amidst life’s challenges and trials. The principle of an indescribably awesome (in its truest and fullest sense) God supplying us soaring, sustaining, and steadfast power brings great comfort (see Isaiah 40:1-2) to those in dire need of such strength. Yet often this energy seems inaccessible and merely words – words that we believe but rarely experience. And why is this? Because these magnificent promises are only understood and realized as we digest and apply what precedes them. In other words, one must interpret Isaiah 40 backwards to get the full picture.

The 2 previous verses to our focal text tell us that this power is connected to faith: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:27-28). Clearly the prophet says we must believe in order to experience the strength of an all-knowing and all-powerful God. But faith in what?

Faith in Him and Him alone. We see this from the previous verses where Isaiah’s oracle makes fun of the silliness of idols in light of the nature of the one and only true God (vs. 18-26). He mocks those who erect false gods that can’t even stand on their own (verse 20 reminds me of “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” as it describes the wish to craft an idol that won’t topple over). Ridiculous, eh? But for our purposes, an idol is not a graven image but anything that we treasure, love, and desire more than God. An idol can even be seemingly good things (like religion, humanitarian efforts, ministry, or family) that supersede God in importance in our lives. This includes the most insidious of idols – our own energy, effort, and ingenuity (let’s just call this self-sufficiency or pride). The prophet says that to experience the unfathomable power of God we must believe in Him in all of His greatness and nothing can be more important than Him.

But moving further back in the text, we see that it’s not just believing in God but having a right vision of His awesomeness and boundless might. This is what we see in verses 12-17. Here He is described as an immeasurably powerful Creator and the sustainer of all things. What we have described in these verses is mind-boggling. It, as best limited human language can, portrays God as incomprehensibly mighty. As compared to our pathetic, limited, and vastly inferior ability, we see that, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God…” (Deuteronomy 10:17). As James MacDonald says, “It’s not that your problems are too big. It’s that your God is too small.”

But how are we connected to this awesome God? In and through the Son of God who became Jesus the Christ (vs. 1-11). Scripture shows Him to have this same power and character as Yahweh, Jehovah God (John 1, Hebrews 1, and Colossians 1). We see the mighty ruling arm of God (v. 9) become the lovingly tender arm of God (v. 11) by way of Jesus (vs. 1-5). This is called the good news (v. 9 – better understood as “great news”) of the Messiah, whose coming was heralded by John the Baptist with Isaiah’s words, “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (v. 3). And this is the “Word of our God that will stand forever” (v. 8).

So, in summary, to access the unfathomable strength of God (29-31) we must have genuine faith (27-28) in God and not ourselves or our God-substitutes (18-26). And our trust must be in an awesomely large and limitless God (12-17) that has connected us to His immeasurable power through our surrender to the person and power of Jesus (1-11) and experienced through His Holy Spirit.

So, if we want the soaring, sustaining, steadfast strength of our supremely awesome God, it will only come from Jesus when we:

• love Him above all else and lean only on Him

• yearn for Him and yield to Him

• are devoted to Him and dependant on Him alone

• are surrendered to Him and sustained only by Him

• faithfully fix our gaze on Him and feast on His Word

The New Testament equivalent of the powerful principle of Isaiah 40 is found in Hebrews 12:1-3. The writer connects the dots and gives us a passage to call our own as we seek the strength of God found only in Christ:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

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