When I was an elementary school kid, I worried. In fact, I worried so much I can distinctly remember my mom telling me on multiple occasions, “You’re going to get an ulcer by the time you’re fifteen!” Well, thankfully that never happened, but as I grew up, I continued to be a fairly anxious kid. In fact, it wasn’t until I became a Christian at the age of nineteen and started reading passages like Matthew 6:25–34 that I came to realize worry was sin.
Much has changed in this world since my conversion twenty years ago, and because of today’s advances in technology coupled with our cultural norms to graft high-tech gadgetry into our everyday lives, the worry and anxiety game has been ratcheted up to a whole new level for most of us.
For example, we are constantly made more aware (via devices like smartphones) of how horrible the world can be—crime, communication woes, identity theft, artificial social connection with others, and instantaneous bad news from around the globe are all part of our normal daily intake. As the convenience and access to information goes up, so does the anxiety.
The polar ends of convenience and anxiety are two sides of the same coin that increase in tandem with each other. So, while life might seem industrialized and easier with every hardware or software update, it also becomes equally terrifying because of what we are naturally made aware of through the technology we weave into our lives.
The great irony is we’re afraid to be without our technology, but our technology makes us afraid. The temptation to walk in constant panic because of the age we live in is greater than ever before; however, it is possible to properly engage with our modern tech-drenched society and still hold to a biblical worldview.
Here are three common problems and gospel solutions as we address the issue of angst among the inevitability of ever-increasing technological advancement in our culture.
Anxiety Has Roots
We must search our hearts to see that technology-induced anxiousness might really be a symptom of a greater problem within. Perhaps the root of our concern lies in a mistrust of God and his benevolent sovereignty.
It’s natural to get wrapped up in anxiety because of things in our newsfeed like terrorism, bleak political coverage, or disturbing statistics regarding pervasive evil; however, the truth in places like Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 103:19, and Colossians 1:17 communicate God our King is on the throne and unsurprised by world events. He is the beginning and the end, so when we authentically rest in the fact God is in control over all things, anxiety begins to evaporate like mist in the air.
Focusing on the Gifts, Not the Giver
It can be easy to believe God is holding out on us when we see the constant glamor of other people’s lives posted in places like Instagram or Facebook. Tech-spawned anxiety and jealousy exist because we believe God blesses others but not us as we scroll through post after post online. However, the “if only” mindset is extremely dangerous because it sets your heart’s focus on the blessings, not the Blesser.
If all we’re willing to settle for as followers of Jesus Christ are the good gifts from God, the gifts themselves have become our end goal, not our heavenly Father. As Christians, we are ultimately not in pursuit of God’s blessings—we are after resting in the reconciliation with the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ. That reconciliation leads to the benefits of the reconciliation itself. God is peace. God is prosperity. We are in need of the Giver, not the gifts. Believing this by faith will help us reject the idea of keeping up with the digital Joneses when we surf around online.
The Fear of Missing Out
The fear of missing out (FOMO) has become a major byproduct of prolific technology use. While the acronym itself might induce an eye roll from most people, it’s a very real problem. Our smartphones are ever-pinging windows into the fun everyone else is having . . . without us. But much like other forms of fear or anxiety, FOMO is brought to life by a lack of belief that God is good and he loves us.
If we look to our heavenly Father in all of his strength and love, our anxiety will dissipate because we know he loves us and wants what is best for us. Our security and significance rests on his analysis of us, and that analysis is clear: God is crazy in love with us—enough to sacrifice his only Son that we might know him (Romans 8:32; 1 John 4:9). Love like that cannot find an equal, so if our smartphones give us the ability to see others are forgetting us, neglecting us, or even intentionally rejecting us, it won’t matter. If we view ourselves in light of the sacrifice he made to be with us, FOMO loses its grip on our hearts. When we walk with God and remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s lead over our lives, there’s really no such thing as missing out. How can you miss out on something better when the One who directs your life is proactively shaping your paths?
Answer: You can’t.
God calls each of us (in places like the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25; Luke 16:10; 1 Corinthians 4:1–2; Colossians 3:23, Titus 2:7) to be responsible and full of integrity with what he has given. We are to be above reproach when it comes to technology and not allow it to govern our lives or wash us in stress and anxiety.
Confidence in our heavenly Father separates followers of Jesus Christ from the rest of a technology-saturated culture that lives in a state of worry about nearly everything going on in our personal world, and the world our phones constantly chirp about over social media.
Sure, stress will always tug at our hearts and encourage us to find quick solutions apart from God, but true peace comes from the source of life itself. In Him we rest, and the anxiety slips away.
PRESSURE POINTS: A GUIDE TO NAVIGATING STUDENT STRESS
From navigating failure, roadblocks, and spiritual warfare to tackling relevant, hard-hitting topics such as drinking, sex, dating, pornography, and the fear of missing out, Pressure Points encourages college students to consider Jesus in the midst of everyday struggles.