Posted On October 1, 2014

Do We Worship What’s In Our Pockets?

by | Oct 1, 2014 | The Gospel and the Christian Life

It’s just a matter of time before that event begins today. You know the one. Media has been buzzing about it all week. Many of us have vigilantly researched and studied leading up to the event to know all that we might ahead of time. And it will be the only thing that will be talked about with family and friends this afternoon and tonight. What will be said? How will we take yet another bite of the fruit offered? How will our life be affected?

I self-depricatingly type this on one of their devices after I read my Bible on another. And any moment now, I’ll get a notification from the one that’s in my pocket. But do I rule that device, or does it rule me? Let us not forget, we worship what rules us.

A Not Too Distant Future

And does that company dictate my schedule today, or do I. Some take the day off, “a day of rest” whenever this company has a press release. Some even absentmindedly call for a holiday, forgetting the etymology of the word.

In a not too distant future, it might very well be that. People will all take a day off to rest. They’ll gather together a feast of foods to enjoy — just like on Super Bowl Sunday — everyone will gather around the streaming monitor to see what a drone will deliver to their doorsteps at the close of the address. Then they will play with their new toy, gadget, handcuff for the rest of the day, mesmerized by all the unknown needs it now fulfills. That’s right, resting and feasting will take place: a virtual sabbath will be called. And we might very well call what takes place worship.

Sharing My Treasure

Now, I’m not untouched. I navigate this world just as all the others — in turmoil about what to do and how to respond to all of this. Will I join in the spectacle? Will I be seduced to give more of my treasure for next year’s fleeting treasure? How much of my treasure will I share? Will I be overcome? Wait! Do you hear that echo? Will I be overcome? “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2Pet. 2:19).

I remember the first time I shared my treasure. I got a lot of help. I graduated from undergrad studies. My father came to me, knowing that I was starting seminary and offered to purchase for me the notebook of my choice, an award for hard work accomplished. Instantly, I knew what I would get. Though I used his treasure to procure mine, a little of the treasure in my heart also was shared.

I loved that device and cherished it for the next four years. It was dependable. It was efficient. It performed. It opened doorways to worlds I did not know. Every little bit of the time it stole a little bit of time from other treasure.

Then I added a listening device for working out, studying, and storing data. Then I got the one I keep in my pocket, which has upgraded at least twice since. I’ve since replaced that first notebook twice over the course of ten years. I keep a device on my wrist at all times as a clock, radio, and music player. I read consistently on another. Much of my treasure has been shared to gain these treasures. And I wonder, have I become overcome by what I treasure? Am I the subject of a ruler or are these merely objects to rule?

Is There Shame In Our Gain

I tell myself that I leverage these treasures for my greatest Treasure. And I really think I do. If you look what fills those devices and what is produced by those devices, I think you might agree. And you always know a tree by its fruit, right? Exactly!

If I’ve been vague in descriptors at all, it is as one who feels some deep sense of shame. Have I gone too far? Have we all gone too far? Not a day goes by where someone doesn’t ask, “Is that a…?” “What do you think of it?” “I’ve always wanted one.” And my responses are the normal ones that you expect; the responses that anyone has when they have great pride in their treasure.

But hidden beneath that response is a feeling of shame. O the attention these treasures draw. The assumptions that people make about the treasure and its possessor. The fulfillment that accompanies it. It’s fleeting. The day after gaining one, it becomes yet another token or trophy of status and success for the esoteric and aristocratic. Do they really need one? What does it really gain? And do I need another? It won’t satisfy. Rather, it will only remind me of my insatiable appetite that will only be fulfilled when I take a bite of an everlasting fruit and eat from a different tree.

So am I to react by becoming some sort of crazy Luddite? Or do I learn to manage my treasure that I have gained. What do I do with the shame? Do I keep burying it deep? What does it really mean? How do I embrace the already and not yet of that fruit that I will eat one day as I keep on taking bites of the fruit that tantalize me today?

This post first appeared at Joey’s blog and is posted here with his permission.

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