Phone As Pack Mule

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This is it! My final major takeaway from 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke. As Christians, we are called to redeem the time. To redeem the time, we must count the cost of what we do with our time.

In an interview with the author, Christian ethicist Oliver O’Donovan said this:

“Media don’t just lie around passively, waiting for us to come along and find them useful for some project we have in mind. They tell us what to do and, more significantly, what to want to do.” (pg. 19)

In Off the Clock, Laura Vanderkam pointed out that social media wasn’t around twenty years ago, and yet somehow with its invention, we’ve found plenty of time for it. The medium demands our attention and we oblige, often without asking whether this new technology is useful or helpful to us.

Since we know that apps are designed to stimulate our brains and make us crave more of them, it’s not surprising that we get hooked and want to spend more time on our phones, our hearts following after our eyes.

“Daniel Boorstein was right all along: we must reckon with time. Is your heart set on becoming a celebrity in this life or a hero in the next? Is time your daily nuisance, threatening to erode your significance, or is it your friend? Do you want your approval and fame now, or can you wait for an eternal crown?” (pg. 78)

Most of us will never become insta-famous, but the likes and pings on our phones can make us feel more worthy or well-known, making it easier and even more desirable to spend time sharing. “If I don’t share it, it didn’t happen, right?” goes the new saying, said jokingly but with truth in it as well.

There are absolutely lots of things worth sharing. And they should be shared! But, as with anything, we must always watch our hearts, ensuring that our phones live in their proper place.

“if you rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because your sins are forgiven through Jesus, then your smartphone becomes a kind of friendly pack mule on the way to heaven. Mules are not kept for their good looks. They just get the job done.

“The job is not to impress anybody. The job is to make much of Christ and love people. That is why we were created. So don’t waste your life grooming your mule. Make him bear the weight of a thousand works of love. Make him tread the heights with you in the mountains of worship.” (pg. 13, emphasis mine)

Instagram was only an opportunity to groom my mule, though that’s not the case for others. Facebook doesn’t have the same effect on me, especially if I only use it on a desktop.

My Bible app, text messenger, calendar, Duolingo, PrayerMate, and many other apps help me get the job done. They serve as my tools rather than me serving them. God gives good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11, James 1:17), so I can thank him for these tools that draw me to him and help me love others–all while praying that he keep my wayward heart from putting my hope in them.

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