I don’t know how or why I started receiving a weekly summary of my cell phone usage, but I now receive breakdowns of the amount of time I spend on various apps. This little update tells me how much time I spend, or even waste, using various phone apps including Spider Solitaire and Sudoku… Yikes!
What, in your opinion, is the least “preached on” subject in America? What is the one subject that the least number of Americans really want to address in earnest? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know that the subject of “gluttony” is likely near the top of the list. I am not simply referring only to food consumption, but also to things like “binge” watching on Netflix, cell phone usage, video games and whatever else seems to have crossed an objective line of excessiveness.
I was watching 60 Minutes recently and learned there is a 10-year longitudinal study being conducted to understand the effects of screen technology on the brain tissue and behavior of 8- and 9-year-old boys and girls. Excessive usage of cell phones and other screens is showing some preliminary results. It will take some time before results are truly understood. But for now, it is proven that brain tissue prematurely thins as a result of excessive screen activity. This process seems to mean that the brain tissue of 8- and 9-year-old children who experience excessive use of screen technology are maturing at a faster rate. Whether this is good or not remains to be seen, but one would think it’s not so good. Those born after 1995, labeled by some scientists as “i-gen” because they have always had an iPhone, tend to have excessive exposure to social media and screen technology while also experiencing a higher rate of depression and loneliness. Preliminary studies on two-year-olds show potentially alarming results regarding the use of “old school” conventional toys verses “screen” toys.
Our culture seems to lean heavily towards excessive consumption. It is not the technology that is the issue; it is our excessive use of technology that is likely harming children and adults alike and is also likely contributing to violence, bullying and ineptness in personal face-to-face communication. Who knows; one day, a funeral may just be a group Facebook chat between mourners sharing discontent emojis. If we resort to sharing love and encouragement with our loved ones via social media and not in person, we need to call a timeout.
Are we being consumed?
Perhaps we need to walk out a “sermon” on technological gluttony? Jesus addressed this issue in His first recorded public sermon. He defined the mark of a disciple as one who fasted. Perhaps this year we should each look at whether we are Christian consumers without limits or Christians being consumed beyond measure. Doesn’t the Bible say something about the Holy Spirit being a Consuming Fire? Maybe we disciples of Christ in America need to introduce some balance into our lives. Maybe we need to step away from things for a day or two, or even a week or two, so as to gain a healthier perspective. Abstaining from consumption isn’t the goal of a fast, but abstaining from a behavior while seeking the Lord certainly is paramount.
In this new year, your calendar likely has birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and vacation time… but where is fasting? If you and your family, and even your church, are slow to fast, perhaps you need to step back and re-evaluate. Consider fasting for a day or meal a week. Consider scheduling time to step away from Facebook so you can get your face in the Book. Before our brain tissue becomes too thin, maybe we should make some decisions to not spend so much time in excess but more so invest quality time with one another?
Be quick to fast while being slow in excessiveness. *Insert emoji here.
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, N.C.