Who’s in control of your digital world? – BTW I’m doing this post in Five Minutes, unedited.
It’s clear many of us recognise we’re on the brink of being out of control of our digital world. We don’t like it. Human instinct is always to manage, to steer, to control and bring about safe, expected, reliable outcomes. Very few of us enjoy the sensation of things running away against our will.
But somewhat ironically, a friend of mine commented that,
“The key difference between digital relationships and real time relationships is that in the digital world, we are in control.”
Despite the fact that we feel so controlled by the medium, it is actually where we are most in control. We can control how we write, react, and how much we expose ourselves to content and to connection. When we’re tired, offended or hurt, we can withdraw almost without any repercussions.
There isn’t real life accountability – facing up to real human reactions – the kind that you get in a real relationship. In a healthy local church, if you flit here and there, randomly interacting, never committing or making a contribution in a steady, giving way, there will at some point be repercussions. You can’t control when the backlash will come. This inevitable intervention is not always welcomed, but it’s very good for you.
Being embedded in a real community who can see how you are, and who tell you when you are off-limits, means that there’s another powerful dynamic at play in your life. One that’s bigger than you. One you can’t control, or switch off. You’ve ‘submitted’.
Submission, or acknowledging and welcoming a greater power to oversee and influence your life, is not a popular concept nowadays. But it is this very submission to a wider community that can be our lifesaver. It is in relinquishing our independent, isolated ways and willingly embracing another influence in our lives that is a powerful force for growth and good. It is never comfortable. It is rarely easy. Left to our own devices, we’d avoid the interaction altogether.
This force for good through the local church is the very work of the heavenly Father in our lives. The writer to the Hebrews describes it like this,
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:4-14)
The whole dynamic of a good Father disciplining a child is of someone firmly taking control for the child’s development and protection. What Father would let his child run amok, straight into the fire or into oncoming traffic? He trains, leads, constrains, challenges… as his children we acknowledge he is the leader, the one in control, the one with the authority. We let him into our lives – we need him in our lives – because without him we would be helpless in the vices of our own making.
#write31days (What is Write 31 Days?)