When I was a medical resident, my office was occupied by two large metal cabinets filled with Kodachrome slides. These slides documented nearly every medical disease replete with the appearances of the respective diseased organs and mated with microscopic photomicrographs. Next to the cabinet was a shelf filled with slide carousels organized by topics and presentations that I had given. I was quite proud of my collection which was amassed over five years. Within 3 years of completing my residency, my entire collection was obsolete, replaced with digital photos. My entire photographic library, filling a shelf and several file cabinets, could now be transported in a smartphone or accessed from a computer server.
I marvel at the dramatic reduction in the physical space requirements that information can now be stored. Equally impressive is the ease and rapidity by which this knowledge can be retrieved. Books, journals, and documents can now be scanned and stored on a computer. My entire Bible, as well as hundreds of commentaries and textbooks, can be accessed through any smart device or retrieved from the cloud. My access to God’s Word and information about Him have never been more accessible. Has my faith also grown in parallel with this accessibility?
This accessibility and convenience have sometimes lulled me into an insidious complacency. Using a digital camera or other smart devices, I can now take hundreds of photos at a fraction of the cost of earlier analog cameras. However, as, many of the photos will testify, taking more photos does not necessarily make me a better photographer. In fact, the ease with which I can take a digital photo has severely hampered my desire to once become a better photographer. Similarly, I may slack off on my earnestness to memorize Bible verses because I can simply do an internet search or use an app to search my Bible. I may not ponder the meaning of a difficult passage of God’s Word because I can immediately retrieve multiple commentary interpretations but other Biblical scholars. While these are excellent uses of technology, my faith has sometimes suffered and weakened.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge…
Hosea 4:6 (ESV)
This verse reminds me that it is not only a lack of knowledge that God condemns, it is also an unwillingness or complacency to use the knowledge. Technology simplifies and streamlines many aspects of my spiritual life, but it sometimes becomes an excuse for laziness; my faith does not grow in parallel with the rapid retrieval of knowledge. I realized that my ability to reason and ponder God’s Word on my own was in danger of becoming obsolete, like my Kodachromes and slide carousels. Before I experienced spiritual obsolescence, I needed to learn to successfully integrate the technological advances and embrace and use the knowledge as I did before it was available. I needed to expand, and not contract, my faith.
There is no spiritual obsolescence with God, only spiritual indolence with me.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.