Glorifying God with Our Technology: Four Questions to Ask

 

Discipleship in Digital AgeIn one sense, discipleship in any age concerns certain common disciplines in order to become like Christ so that we no longer live to ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14), but to Christ (Galatians 2:20). If we want to grow into Christ, we must discipline ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). But the question remains: In light of our increasing, whirling (digital) technology what additional disciplines might we need to embrace to walk by faith amidst pings, apps, and notifications?

Too often, we know Christ should be our focus and that we become like what we worship (Psalm 115, 135), but still technology pushes back on us—retraining, rewiring, and reshaping us in the process. And this is not unintentional, apps are designed by programmers to encourage certain behaviors. We recognize that there are certain beneficial, helpful, and fitting uses of technology that help us in our spiritual walk and in spreading the Gospel. Yet, there are also ways in which our hearts and habits are being reshaped by the devices we hold. So how do we take the principles found in Scripture and apply them to an ever-changing digital age?

For five weeks our church, in Sunday School, has considered Discipleship in a Digital Age. We have given attention to biblical, theological, and practical truths to help us think about technology, but now we need to put truth into action. We need to think practically about the way smart phones and social media, apps and artificial intelligence impact us, and better how we can use them to the glory of God.

And so, this Sunday we will consider a couple of “case studies,” where we can think about how our technology impacts us and how we can best use technology. We will look at smart phones and Facebook to consider how we engage technology with discernment and discipline. If we do not consider such applications, we will not be able to spur one another on towards love and good deeds with our technology. By default we will only  find ourselves following the patterns given to us by the inventers of the technology.

Four Questions to Ask About Any ‘Tool’

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A Biblical Theology of Business (and Church Growth)

A few weeks ago I came across this video from the Gospel & Culture conference in NYC.  It features Jeff Van Duzer, dean of the business school at Seattle Pacific University giving a message entitled, “A Theology of Business.”

I have watched it a few times now and gleaned much.  It it is a great biblical-theological treatment of business that grounds itself in the four-fold movement of redemption history–Creation, Fall, Redemption, New Creation.

However, it is more than just a good presentation for businessmen who want to follow in the footsteps of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-a.  It is a good paradigm for church leaders and churches to apply to the local church.  Usually, I am slow to make such claims because I think too many popular business practices have shaped churches.  Too little attention has been given to what the Bible says.  (Yes, I have drunk the punch served by 9Marks).

This is where Jeff Van Duzer is different.  He builds with the Scriptures and he gives a good model for business and for those doing God’s business in the local church.  Tonight our church leaders are going to watch the video and discuss.  I encourage you to do the same.  Spend an hour thinking through Van Duzer’s main points, and how, if they were implemented in your business, Bible college, or area of ministry, they would glorify God by producing good fruit.

If it helps here are a number of questions to consider

  1. What does Jeff Van Duzer critique?
  2. Some people say business is bad, others that it is good, even messianic.  What is wrong with these polarities?
  3. I would propose that his comments about “business” could easily be translated to “church growth.”  What is church growth?  And what should we think about it?
  4. He speaks of two issues: The PURPOSE and PRACTICE of business.  What are the two purposes for business that he mentions?  How do these contrasting visions of business relate to Mark 10:44-45?
  5. According to Jeff Van Duzer, should profit be the means or the end?  Translating to the church, should “numbers” be an end or a means?  What does it mean that numbers are a means in the church?
  6. In the church, who are the “shareholders”?  Who are the “customers”?  Who should we serve? Who are we serving?
  7. Using his illustration of blood circulation, what does a church that only circulates blood look like or do?  What characteristics does it have?
  8. What does a living and healthy church have?  What are the metrics of a healthy church?
  9. When leaders make decisions, Van Duzer says that they ask one of two questions:         (a) Which of these choices will maximize my return or investment?  Or, (b) Given our core competencies, how can we best employ them to serve others.  When we make decisions in the church, which are we asking? 
  10. When we make decisions are we making them to (a) increase our numbers or (b) increase our faithfulness?  Do we trust that if we focus on being “boringly biblical” that God will bless our church?  Or do we need to add to the message?
  11. Using the illustration of levies, Van Duzer speaks of limitations on pursuing capitol.  What limits do we have / should we have in our ministries?  Can we do anything or are their delimiting factors?  What are they?
  12. What in our day and age do we need to guard against?   What temptations do churches face who want to grow?
  13. What was the difference between the Gold Medal and Silver Medal companies surveyed by Jim Collins?
  14. What should a mission of the church include?

Now, go do God’s business (John 15:1-8).

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

 

More Vaughan Roberts: The Goal and Glory of Marriage


In his book, God’s Big Design: Life as He intends it to be, Anglican Rector Vaughan Roberts devotes a chapter to “God’s Design for Sex and Marriage.” In the chapter, he makes a three-fold assertion: God is for sex; Sex is for marriage; and Marriage is for life. Unpacking these premises, Roberts reiterates the point that the ultimate goal of marriage is more than relational companionship and the alleviation of loneliness, and that the glory of marriage is not found in the mere ability to achieve marital bliss but in the couple’s invitation to reflect Christ’s marriage to the church. His comments are worth pondering.

The Goal of Marriage:

Mutual delight was never intended to be the ultimate goal of the relationship. The words of Genesis 2:18 must be understood in context. God has issued the creation mandate: human beings are to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 2:18). In Genesis 2:15 Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden and commanded “to work it and take care of it.” It is immediately after that command that God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The natural thought from the low of the test, therefore, when we are told that Adma needs a “helper,” is that this is connected with the work that he has been given to do. He needs some one to come to his aid for he cannot do this work “alone” (78-79).

Quoting Christopher Ash, Marriage: Sex in the Service of God, Roberts continues],

“Marriage is given to enable humankind to exercise responsible dominion over God’s world.”  So, far from being inward-looking , a married couple should be looking upward to God and outward to the world in which he calls them to seve him. “In the Bible’s perspective the way forward is neither via individual autonomy nor introspective companionship, but in the joyful shared service of God” (79).

Roberts admonition flies in the face of therapeutic resolutions to marriage problems.  Its powerful implication is that it challenges couples encountering the corrosive effects of interpersonal sin to abandon the marriage retreat and go on a short-term mission trip.  (Point of clarification: I think marriage retreats are good and necessary, but short-term service better).  Rather than introspectively dividing character qualities into strengths and weaknesses, the goodness of marriage is found in shoulder-to-shoulder service where the object of compassion is a stranger, a widow, or an orphan.  If this does not produce spiritual fruit and sanctification, what will. 

Consider, why is it that so many empty-nester get divorces?  Could it be that their season of mutual service has ended and they are no longer working together on a common task?  They are no longer serving their children together and thus marital fidelty and cooperation has lost focus.  Roberts biblical exhortation is for all married couples to take seriously the original tasks (i.e. be fruitful, multiply, increase, and subdue) and to do it together.  Looking upwards to God and outwards to others, husbands and wives find their ultimate purpose in fulfilling the Great Commission in uniquely masculine and feminine ways.  Walking together with different gifts and abilities, these purpose-driven (excuse the expression) marriages co-labor for the sake of the kingdom.

The Glory of Marriage:

Marriage is a picture of the relationship of Christ and his church. The apostle Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 and comments, “This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). He is saying that the fundamental relationship is between Christ and his people. There is no deeper, more profound marriage than that. The marriage of a man and a woman is just a shadow of the marriage between Christ and his church. It is not that human marriage provides a useful illustration for Bible writers to use to speak of the relationship between God and his people; it is the other way round. The relationship between Christ and his church comes first; human marriage is patterned after it” (85).

Which means that from before the foundation of the world, God was thinking about marriage. As He was forming Eve in the Garden from Adam’s rib, our Heavenly Father was anticipating and preparing the way for His Son’s union with his bride–the church. So then the last marriage is first, and all earthly marriages serve as eschatological signs of the marriage of the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. This cosmic representation heightens the importance of our marriages and the necessity for preserving them from the pollution of this world. Roberts concludes by emphasizing the Christ-church mystery which “underlines the importance of faithfulness. [God] never breaks his promises and he expects the same commitment in our marriages with one another” (85).

It is a glorious mystery and privilege when a man and woman marry.  Their marriage actually participates in the cosmic story of redemption, and their sexual union bears witness to the eschatological hope of consummation with Christ. It causes us to pause and to ponder the goodness and wisdom of God.  Moreover, reflecting on the heavenly origins of marriage elevates the value of our own marriages in a culture that consumes relationships like Chinese take-out.  The Divine Marriage dignifies human marriages so much more than relational consumerism.

May we live counter-cultural lives and love our wives for the sake of Jesus Christ and his bride, the church!

Sola Deo Gloria, dss