When we went over this upcoming series with some of the youth leaders, I could almost hear the look on their faces, “Babel? Seriously?” And if I were them, I would’ve thought the same thing.
But… yes, seriously.
Look around you, right now. What are you staring at? If you’re being honest, you’re looking at a 2-Dimensional screen. “Anne, are you saying that technology is a useful tool? That even though the youth leaders judge me for texting so much, I can do good things with technology? That… even though I may get arthritis in my hands, the arthritis is done for the good Lord Himself?” Why yes, yes I am.
Back in the day–and really… back in the day, the Israelites had this grand plan to use bricks for something not-so-useful. Check it all out in Genesis 11:1-9.. It goes like this.
At one time all the people in the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region, people used bricks instead of stone, and tar for mortar.) Then they said, “Come let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
But the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower that the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.
The thing is, although the tower of Babel, bricks, and cell phones don’t seemingly have anything in common–the intent of the people is certainly similar with our intents today. Yes, the tools are different. Yes, the “same language” thing was different. But, humans haven’t really changed all that much.
And some of you are thinking (or maybe not, but let’s just pretend like you are), “The Bible doesn’t say anything about technology. If you are about to twist something and make it about technology, I’m out of here.” And… you’re right. The Bible does not say, “Thou shall not text,” or “take up your technology and follow me.” Nope. Sure doesn’t.
If we were talking about technology from the 1980s (most of you weren’t even born then… weird), we’d be referring to car-mounted mobile phones or cable TV or boom boxes with CD and cassette players. Fax machines may have even been a “big” subject. If we were talking about technology from the 1990s, we would have conversations about internet, cell phones and email. If we just looked at technology from the 2000s, it’s smart phones, Wii, and Facebook. Even today as I mention those, it seems like technology is becoming obsolete, making room for what’s next.
The point is, God provided Israel with materials: bricks. Then He gave people the knowledge to know how to make them. And the people used these bricks to do lots of good things–build houses, buildings, and things that were useful and helpful. But–in the story, they also used bricks to do something God was not on board with. They used them to build a tower–to show their strength and their power–to try to show up God. So were these bricks bad? No. Were these eeeevil bricks? No. So what about these bricks caused God to create confusion among the–uh–Babel-ers?
What does a brick have in common with your cell phone?
A lot more than you might think.
Think through all the things you can do with your cell phone. Let’s even say that you have one of those retro-Nokia phones that only makes calls (can you imagine?). Think about the power you hold in your hands just by having that. With your Nokia phone, you have the power to break up, hurt, destroy, encourage, supply, demand, and retaliate. You can call anyone in the country (or world if you pay 15.99 extra). You can text someone (maybe). There’s a lot you can do with your phone.
And although you probably won’t build a tower with it, you can do a lot of things. Did God make this phone? No, but God gave us the materials to make it and even the components of man-made materials. God didn’t make the bricks in Babel, either, but like He did then, and like He does now, He gives men and women the ability to create, and He gives them intelligence and creativity to design this phone or that brick and make it work.
And here is how we are just like the people of Babel. We have a choice. We can use our tools for something useful, or we can use them for something meaningless. We can let technology motivate, or God motivate. No matter what relationship we have with technology, all of us have to ask ourselves that question. What will we do with what we’ve been given? Use it for great good? Or use it to destroy?
Over the next few weeks, hopefully, we will purposefully use it for GOOD. What do you think? What are some ways you can use technology for good?
4 thoughts on “Babel?”
Now that it is here, our advanced technology is being used actively for both good and evil. It’s all just happening much faster than it ever did before. This means it is neither good news or bad news. It’s almost a wash. However, something that wasn’t happening before (really) … Technology is making the Church more accessible to those who found it inaccessible before (a shut-in’s access to recorded sermons, just for an example). The Church can also be far more interesting to those who otherwise would not have been interested before. Think about how someone who might be ready to seek God BUT not ready to darken a Church door might explore a solid informative Church web site first. It doesn’t happen? Oh, I assure you, it does with the right keywords in the METATAGS. Even if it doesn’t get the hits that a video game site would get, just to gather a few souls that way in a year’s time can be likened to the drop in the pond that makes many ripples.
I believe the industrial revolution was the beginning of technology. This began in Britan in the 18th century but didn’t come to the United States until the period of the Cival war around 1861. This was the start of mass production for guns that were used in the civil war. Mass production has been great for a growing population but it has also encouraged our work to stop at average. Not many people try to go beyond average anymore. Technology was supposed to help us get our work done faster but we spend as many hours or more on the job. Is it because we waste our time on these new technologies. Alicia Creasey just posted that facebook is like a refrigerator You just keep opening and closing it looking for something new. Do we waste time opening and closing all of our devices and end up just being average at our job, or in school or even with our spouce and friends. When is the last time you handcrafted a card, wrote a letter long-hand and mailed it snail mail? Wrote a note of encouragement and slipped it into your friends back pack? What a surprise that would be and what an encouragement that would be to someone. Let’s go beyond average. Let’s use the many talents that God gave us for a whole new purpose. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use technology. If I didn’t have a computer, I wouldn’t have a job. I do 90 percent of my work on the computer but I can use that for good or I can waste time. Use your technology for good. Let’s give our very best for the Lord today in any way you can! Let’s quit being average let’s be exceptional for the Lord!
To remain applicable, it is plausible that not only cell phones derive a sensible urge to do the things God does not wish us to do, but technology as a whole.
Is it a bigger thought to look at what happens when we sit behind a desk and type to our computer? A lot of times our personalities can exacerbate. As we communicate behind devices, our thoughts become limited.
I’ve directly learned a few important times when it would deem wise NOT to discuss things over the phone or over the computer. Sensitive matters sometimes need a sensitive touch. If you’re going to break up with someone, as it eventually will likely do as youth, try to sit down with the person. I’ve often times been able to taper off tension because I was able to make a discerning ‘judgment call’ and spoke on a difficult matter face to face. Imagine the possibilities? The opportunities to lift someone up in person are also quantified. Interact with these thoughts. What do you think? Can you come up with some situations as students where using technology for God and using them wisely can construct and equip your own lives?
“Be kind for every person you meet is fighting a great battle” – Filo of Alexander, Egypt 60 circa b.c.e
technology is the effort of mankind to make things so easy so that to sit under a tree by a mountain stream w/a pole, unbaited, floating in the water is the sum of the whole day. even in our attempts to use it for said relaxation it continues to bring on more stress and effort b/c there is no perfection that can be obtained, as of yet, but were working on it. and it’s the as of yet that pushes man to keep seeking, puttin off that tree and mountain stream…when in reality all he has to do is just drop everything and go. we worry about the past, which we cannot change, worry about the present, which we lose w/each passing second and therefore miss. worry about the future that we’re not even assured of. if balaam’s ass hadnt stopped the angel would have killed him and yet balaam bet the ass. what has that to do w/technology u ask? exactly! man will use, mistreat, misuse, under appreciate everything we have, till we see the true value and proper way…it’s our nature. God created us. gave us freedoms. he didnt want no numb nut robots and this is the result of man trying to get back to the garden. trying to get past that angel w/the flashing sword. after all the bible is full of technology it brought peter, andrew, james and john the fishing boats and nets. the roman army shields and armor. the cross as a way of torture and death. the wheel for grinding that samson spent his last days pushing till he broke free. the ability to build the ark which the ancestors of the tower builders rode on. the bow for the mighty hunter then soldier. the skills to melt gold and make a golden calf. there’s spinners. chariots. gates and walled cities. altars of bronze and gold. the bible is full of the creations of man and how he uses and used them. the freedom of choice. i just want to get back to the garden…which i know is surrounded by beautiful mountains w/lakes and streams, green meadows and wild animals living freely….but until then i will drive to yellowstone and glacier and see it for myself.