You’re probably using it right now as you read this. It’s most likely the device you spend the most time with, possibly even more than with your friends and family. It’s not a stretch to say that lots of Americans like their smartphones a little too much, and Christians are not exempt from this proclivity. But as a Christian, have you sat down and thought about how you’re using your smartphone? The quick response could be that the Bible doesn’t say anything about smartphones, so they’re free game. But behind that statement is the lie that the biblical story doesn’t speak into every aspect of life. We should strive to love God more and more by examining all areas of our lives, including our smartphone usage. So without further ado, let’s talk about your smartphone.
I have found Romans 12:1-2 to be especially pertinent to the way that we use our smartphones. After explaining the gospel in chapters 1-11, Paul says,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (ESV).
I think that this passage gets to the heart of the matter (yes, pun intended). Paul links the reality of conformity and transformation to the renewal of one’s mind. The word “world” refers to the worldly system of thought, as the contrasting statement “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” focuses on the mind as the locus of transformation. In light of Paul’s exhortation to present his readers’ bodies as living sacrifices before God, the transformation of our minds is crucial for us as Christians to treat ourselves as holy and acceptable before God.
Paul is saying that the way that we think about things actually matters! We should view the world in which we live differently because we have a new allegiance, a new reality, a new life. With our identity in Christ, we need to look at life in a way that makes sense in light of the good news of the gospel. And our smartphones are included in this process. Our thought process towards our smartphones should be different compared to those who don’t know Christ.
So how does this all play out for your smartphone usage? In light of the millions of apps available for smartphones, I’ll have to leave this question for you to answer for yourself. There is no single way to use smartphones, so there isn’t going to be a single answer for how to use one as a Christian. But I will share some general thoughts. I think that many Christians do not tap into the potential that smartphones have to encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25). And I think that smartphones can be a way for Christians to subtly exhibit pride, whether through social media, texting, sports apps, etc. Our smartphones can be an outlet for self-commendation, but our commendation should come from who we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:18). Though there are many other pros and cons to think about as a Christian, I believe that these two are especially important for Christians to process through.
We as Christians have a life-changing new identity that impacts all areas of life, including our smartphones. Our call to love God and love people extends to the way we use our smartphones each day. So whether you’re using Instagram or ESPN, prayerfully ask yourself, “Is my smartphone usage impacting who I am, or is who I am impacting my smartphone usage?” Avoid sin struggles, demonstrate love to others, and make Jesus look good with your smartphone.