How Technology & Convenience Cripple Worship

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I heard a sermon last week about the importance of justice to right worship of God. Reverend David Holder, preaching out of Micah 6, made the point that to worship God one must love justice. More importantly, he stressed that pursuing justice – the act of speaking up for the disadvantaged and exploited – is a requirement for worship that is acceptable to God. Indeed, the Scripture bears this out:

6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God.
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

– Micah 6:6-8

Here, the prophet Micah explains that after all that the Lord had delivered the children of Israel from (Ch 6, v1-5), the only proper response is to worship God by “acting justly and loving mercy”. In the next several verses, Micah goes on to indict the people of Israel for the systemic exploitation that had reached every part of society. He concludes that because of their idolatry and injustice, God will give the Israelites “over to ruin and your people to derision [of other nations]”.

So, right worship of God requires the pursuit of justice – got it.
What does that have to with convenience? Or technology?

Simply put, the pursuit of justice – especially for the sake of others – is anything but convenient. It requires leaving the comfort of your current circumstance, and opening yourself up to public ridicule. It also could entail possible reprisals from those who are exploiting the people you’re trying to protect. Pursuing justice means putting yourself out there – in a very inconvenient way.

Technology comes into the picture because, at this point, it’s all about convenience. Everything we use, from different social media to smartphones, are designed to cater to what we want. When we’re online, it’s always about the people, news, and things we are interested in. And if we come across something we don’t like, all it takes is one click and that person/topic/thing is banished from our presence.

While all of these new tools and conveniences are very enjoyable, it’s easy for us to grow accustomed to having the world our way. The more we get used to having things convenient to us, the more things we want that way. More importantly, the more conveniences we have, the less willing we are to give any of them up.

That’s where the problems start. If we aren’t willing to give up our convenience for the sake of pursuing justice, then we can’t give God the worship He requires. Justice costs. And the more accustomed we are to getting what we want, the less we’re willing to pay that price. The more time we spend in a virtual world built around our desires, the more we expect to have things our way – on and off-line.

That’s why many online protests have such high participation, but result in such little change. Changing the your avatar in order to “increasing awareness” of social injustice is convenient for you, but does little to challenge those who exploit the weak and vulnerable. The Arab Spring protests of 20** are looked at as a triumph of technology as a tool for protest and change. While technology, especially social media, was integral to the protestors’ ability to affect change, it wasn’t the only factor. Protestors backed up all those tweets and YouTube videos from the Arab Spring. People left their homes and put themselves in real danger in order to make their voices heard. Effective, but not very convenient.

We as Christians must be willing to shun at least some of the convenience that is saturating our lives via technology. This shouldn’t be for nostalgia’s sake or from self-flattering attempt at piety. It is a necessary step to prevent us from focusing on what we want all the time. This also will make it easier for us to put down our convenience for the sake of pursuing justice for others.

Isn’t that is the type of worship our God deserves?

Share your thoughts in the comments…

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