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Stewarding Technology September 27, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Mark 9:38-50

Proper 21

September 27, 2015

 

Focus:  God gives us great gifts.

Function:  That the hearers use the gifts God gives for the good of His kingdom.

Structure:  Walking through the text in an analogy.

 

Stewarding Technology

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ…ring, ring…ring, ring (in the service, I will actually have a youth call me and I will answer it)…hang on, I should probably take this.  Hello?  Oh, hi Adam.  Hey, can I call you back, I’m kinda in the middle of preaching at the moment. Alright, sounds great, I’ll call you back at halftime.

Now, where were we?  Oh yeah, that’s right, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  Well, that was awkward wasn’t it?  But that’s one of the pitfalls of technology.  It has become such a vital part of our life that it actually disrupts our life together.

When you go out to eat, have you ever seen this?  It’s actually kind of ironic, as the article linked with this picture was called “Relationship Ruins Your Cell Phone.”  But here’s a couple, out for what should be a wonderful date night together, and where is their attention?  Their focus? Their energy?

Or what about that site called Facebook?  Do you even know how it started?  It was once a tool for college students to network together and plan events, but has now devolved into a trash and treasures catchall of meaninglessness.  If you don’t know what a meme is, consider yourself blessed.  Well, unless it’s this one, that was actually kind of funny.

To put it lightly, we’re hooked.  The average American checks their cell phone 150 times a day.  And we watch 35 hours of television a week.  We are consumed.  Things that were designed to encourage communication are now actually used to destroy it.

In his sermon last weekend, Pastor Fritsch focused on some of the aspects of stewardship.  You may remember the old stewardship definition of three T’s: time, talent, and treasure.  That’s actually a helpful way to remember it.  But at a conference I attended last year, we were told that was outdated, obsolete.  We live in a new age, and we need to update accordingly.  There are now four T’s.

When it comes to looking at God’s gifts to us, we simply cannot overlook technology.  Our nation has changed drastically since the industrial revolution of the 19th century.  And the computer age of the 20th century.  But it’s like all good gifts that God gives to us: we can use it well or we can abuse it.  We can use God’s gifts to further His kingdom, or we can use them to drive a wedge between God and us.

This is what we see in Christ’s words, as He talks to His disciples about salt.  “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again?”  This isn’t the only time He talks about salt, or uses another metaphor to speak of how His disciples are supposed to live their lives.  We are the salt of the earth, a city on a hill, the light of the world.  These illustrations are all identical.  We are different, we stand out, and because of that, we can make a difference in this world for the better, by sharing the gospel.

That was actually the opening devotion for our SALT students last week.  Hannah baked two loaves of bread, and “forgot” to put the salt in one of them.  The students then got to try both loaves and share how it tasted.  We actually forgot to put salt in our pizza dough recipe once, and it made a huge difference.  The dough was almost unusable, and even after fighting it into the shape of a crust, it still didn’t taste good.

Salt makes a difference, and we are that salt to the community around us.  But if we lose our saltiness, what happens?  We don’t like to think this way, but Christ is certainly giving us a warning, as He does elsewhere.  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

The band Casting Crowns took a familiar children’s song a few years ago when they were writing their new song “Slow Fade” and they added to it. Just one of the lyrics says, “Be careful little feet where you go, For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow.”  It’s a powerful song, a moving piece, but speaks exactly to Christ’s words.  Our actions matter.  We are salt, we are called to lead, but we can lose that saltiness and lead others astray, we can lead them away from God.

Let’s merge this with Christ’s words.  If technology is causing you to stumble and fall, get rid of it.  If it’s your hand, if it’s ranting and anger that you’re typing on Facebook or in an email, the text messages you’re sending, stop.  Drop texting from your plan, delete your Facebook account, you’ll live, and others will be better off too.

If it’s your foot, if you’re prone to driving drunk, drowsy, or just recklessly in general, give up your license and use public transportation, or ask neighbors to help with rides.  You’ll be saving lives in the process.

If it’s your eyes causing you to sin, by the pornography you crave or the endless gossip available on the internet, or if it’s the temptation to become a sloth on the couch with a bag of chips as you play games on your iPad or watch TV for more hours than you do anything else, get rid of your computer, get rid of the TV.  Believe it or not, there are members here today who don’t have computers or TV’s and they live just fine!

If technology is bringing harm to you, your family, and your community through you, cast it off, get rid of it.  There’s so much more to life than stuff.  So if you’ve lost your way, come to me.  I’ll walk you through it.  I’ll help you to see what it means to be a disciple, to be salt again.

But technology is not in and of itself opposed to God or us.  Jesus said, “For the one who is not against us is for us.”  We can use technology to God’s advantage, to serve Him, to share His love.

Even just looking at the example of giving someone a cup of water as Jesus mentioned.  How far has technology come?  Purification plants give clean water to billions of people to drink.  NFL player Chris Long went to Africa this summer and was disgusted by the water they had, and so he started the Waterboys’ Initiative.  He’s using social media to spread the word and drum up $45,000 to build a well that will provide clean water to a community of 5,000 people.  What a gift!

And the internet and TV aren’t bad by themselves.  God designed us to take a day of rest.  Play games, watch a little football or a movie.  That’s okay.  It’s good to rest, to relax, and to have some fun.  And technology can definitely help with that.

How far has travel come?  Could your great grandparents even fathom being able to go and see Jerusalem?  Or travel to the see some of the great wonders of God’s creation?  I don’t want to think about the days of the Pony Express, and I’m sure our postal workers don’t either.

And what about communication?  Letters in the time of war have turned into face to face conversations for soldiers and their families.  You can see a grandchild or call a loved one who’s literally hundreds to thousands of miles away.  I can send you a message in electronic mail, email, and you’ll have it in the blink of an eye.  I can update you on the need for prayer for someone, or the good news of a new child.

Perhaps instead of filling Facebook with random stuff and fluff, we could use it as a tool for encouragement.  To build one another up.  Or, we could share the good news, and tell others about the Savior who died for them.

With our remodel, we’re figuring out how to record services so our shut-ins, or people in the hospital can be a part of this fellowship, and hear the good news of Christ and His forgiveness.  Can we put them on our own website for the world to see?  Can we come up with Bible classes that we can post online?  We wouldn’t be the first.

Technology is most certainly a wonderful gift, but it pales in comparison to the ultimate gift.  God, in His great love for you, surrendered His Son into the hands of blood-thirsty men.  It was our death that should have happened on that cross.  It was our embarrassment that deserved to be shown to the world.  But Christ took it from us.  And He forgave us and He gave us life.  And then He made us salty again.  He has made us different, He has made us stand out.  He has given us the chance to make a difference in our workplaces, on our streets, in our schools, and in our homes.

He trusts us with His mission.  He trusts us with His good news, with His message of salvation.  And He has given us some pretty neat stuff to share it with our community.  “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”  Amen.

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