The level to which we turn to technology to save us has grown immeasurably over the years. We have defibrillators and pacemakers sending signals to and jumping into fix our hearts when something goes wrong. We have lane changing and collision devices to warn us and then to take over if we do not respond to the warning -- all to prevent a car accident. We have monitors on our wrists not only to record our activity but to warn us when we are not active enough. We have devices which are designed to tell us when we have drunk too much to drive or eaten the wrong food for our diabetes or a host of other problems we either forgot to avoid or chose not to. We have a smart fridge to tell us what we need to purchase at the stone. We have apps on our phone that help us get discounts, count our visits for rewards, provide us the best price for the things we purchase, and a host of other things in which our technology aids our decision making and our very lives. We count this as a benefit of technology improving life. But this is not without cost.
One of the costs of our technology is the surrender of any sense of privacy -- and I do not mean the kind of privacy which hides wrongdoing but the ordinary privacy which presumes that who we are and what we do is on a need to know basis. On the one hand we flaunt information on social media -- things that we would not in the past share to a stranger on the phone or in line at the supermarket is now being blabbed across time and space -- and then we are surprised when that information is used to steal our identity! Many of these apps require from us all kinds of personal information, including a credit or debit card number, and contact information. They install trackers on our devices to find out what we have not told them directly.
There is a Google Pixel smart phone commercial that put it so bluntly. This is the story they tell: Chris was riding in a car with his family to grab a late lunch on a beautiful day in Gatlinburg, TN. Unfamiliar with the area, they came upon a fork in the road and suddenly were involved in a car accident. Luckily nobody was injured, and thanks to car crash detection* on Chris’s Google Pixel, his phone prompted him to call emergency services. The phone (though it does so many things, I am not at all sure why we still call it a phone) has become your savior. Technology has rescued you from yourself. Why would you need a Savior when you have a Google Pixel phone, all the apps, the gadgets at home and in the car, and the like? And if we do not believe in the Divine, in a day of accountability, in the prospect of judgement, or the possibility of punishment after death, why do we need a Savior? If we believe that you have only this life and then nothing or when you die your spirit unites with the great spirit of nature and the universe, why do we need a Savior?
Since you are on the cloud -- at least your pictures, some of your history, your preferences (the most important things anyhow), and all your personal information, you are immortal! All the gift of the cloud. Perhaps when they advance the holographic technology improves, there may be even more of you that lives forever on the cloud, virtually which is almost as real and reality. What then do we need of a Savior when we have this means to immortality?
We are marching into Holy Week and it occurs to me that this week is more and more out of step with the times. It presumes that we cannot save our selves nor can we invent a techno tool to rescue us. We need a God who is willing to send His Son to rescue us not simply from sin and its death but from ourselves. It leads us to the alarming conclusion that sin is not simply bad choices or a tendency to choose poorly but the thoughts, words, and deeds of death. It makes us subject to God, to His mercy, and to the redeeming power of His grace as our only hope. And then it tells us the story of that merciful God, what He has done, and what it means to us sinners.