By Scott Keith –
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
I have been an Apple fan since my grade school. I loved the Apple 2E, the first Macintosh, the first Powerbook (mine was a Powerbook 145 purchased in 1994), the first iMac, and finally, the first iPhone and iPad. I’ve had them all, and I’ve loved them all. I even stuck with Apple in the 90’s when Steve Jobs was booted out, and their products became mass marketed, slow, and antiquated. My son and I stayed out all night in order to buy the first iPad. (We lived in Reno, Nevada, and it was about 25 degrees outside at the time.)
Understandably, I have been very excited to buy and use the new iPhone 6. So, I loaded up the family with money in my hot little hand, and headed off to the Apple store yesterday to buy the latest in my long line of love affairs with Apple products. When we got to the store and I used the phone, I was sorely disappointed. It is just more of the same in a bigger package. Nothing about the new iPhone 6 is life changing, or even exciting. It feels flimsy and breakable. The screen is too big for my chubby fingers to navigate. iOS 8 doesn’t seem much better than iOS 7. Long story short, I left the phone in its fancy little dock and walked out, quite happily, with my 4S still in hand.
What has changed? Has Apple changed or have I? To be sure, I think since the death of Steve Jobs, Apple has been struggling to lead technologically. It has become quite satisfied with tweaking existing technology and innovations, and with the support of a finely tuned marketing team, calling those tweaks new and better. But I don’t think that is all; I think I may have changed.
Since writing for The Jagged Word, I have been thinking more about the implications many of our mundane decisions––like buying a new iPhone simply because it’s new––have on us specifically and on our culture more generally. Do I think it is wrong to buy a new iPhone? No! But, I’ve grown personally tired of doing things thoughtlessly. Treating every new technology that comes our way as “necessary” cheapens the word necessary and changes our vernacular and our cultural milieu negatively. We live in a culture wherein everyday excesses have become necessary. Every family needs a 2,000+ square foot house, even if the family consists of only three people. Every child needs its own room. Every house needs at least two, if not three bathrooms. Every family needs two cars. We all need the latest computer and the latest Smartphone. And who would dare do without a 60″ Flat Screen TV and sound system? To live without is akin to living as barbarians.
I, at times in my life, have been the worst. But lately we have had to live without. We have one bathroom, one car, two bedrooms for three people, and nonetheless, seemingly happy children. Again, I do not think that owning all of these new, exciting, innovative, and life-altering things is bad. In fact, I still own many of them. Though, I do think that believing they are necessary is wrong. This wrongheaded view can lead to a damaging worldview that encourages us to rely on science and technology, as well as culturally driven phenomena’s to determine for us what a quality life resembles.
The picture of a quality life will never be painted by our worldly sinful culture accurately because it knows not Christ. Quality is like goodness, an attribute of the one who made all things. It is true that because He that is quality made us in His image, we occasionally produce foggy reflections of that quality. But these productions are meant to drive us toward Him not away from Him.
When we begin to rely on these foggy reflections, they drive us away from Him not toward what He has truly provided us in Christ.
Sell all you own and follow Him. Or, keep all you own and follow Him. Or, buy more of what you own and follow Him. But at the end of the day, rely on Christ alone as your only means of salvation, victory, direction, life, quality, and freedom, and follow Him. So, does the iPhone 6 suck? Probably not! But we do, and we ought to at times attempt to have our priorities lined in the right direction. We ought to define our needs as needs, our wants as wants, our excesses as excesses and our luxuries as luxuries. In this, as in all things, you will fail as I do. Yet these failures drives us right back to the point; we are sinners in a sinful world that is ruled and condemned by the Law, in this case condemned by its desire. This world would have us believe, with all of its fancy trappings, that it is more than death with makeup on, but it’s not. Though we occasionally get excited about the things with which it paints itself in order to become more attractive to us, it is still of the Law, condemnation, and death. Remember that these are not that which sets us free––not even fancy new iPhones, which can make us more mobile and productive––Christ alone does that.
You are free to live where you want to live. You are free to live in a giant house or a small house. You are free to have one bathroom or six in your house. You are free to own as many cars as you want. You are free to buy the greatest and newest technologies whenever they come out. You are free but remember that freedom was given in Christ alone. You are free before God, and thus free to serve your neighbor. Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” The point is to not return to the slavery of desire for quality, goodness, and salvation from things that are of this world; you will never attain it. Stay free in Christ. Again, failure is inevitable. To that, Paul says in Romans 7:23-25: “but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
So will I get a new iPhone6? Yes, I probably will get one at some point. But hopefully, I will get it because I understand that in my freedom I want it, and not because I’m convinced by our culture that I need it. And yes, it truly does suck.