The Bible accurately predicts the tempo of life and escalated dissemination of knowledge in our time: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4 Daniel 12:4But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
American King James Version×, emphasis added throughout). Isn’t that what we are seeing today? Travel to any part of the world in just a few days is now possible. The amount of information available to the average person has exploded in the last few decades. With your mobile device, you can access books, videos and articles and you can communicate instantly with others around the globe.
When I first went to Ambassador College back in 1966, I walked onto the campus with only a King James Bible. I slowly added a concordance along with a few other Bible translations and textbooks. But today, I have many new Bible translations and new reference books. Many are online and don’t cost me anything. They include the popular YouVersion Bible app, which now has been downloaded hundreds of millions of times, the Blue Letter Bible, Bible Gateway and many others. What a blessing to have this fountain of information available anytime I want it! I listen to books online, and through search engines I can find almost anything instantly. Where once information came through books on my bookshelf or from the library, now entire vistas of knowledge can pour into my mind from my digital device. It’s a miracle!
But, at the same time, the Bible cautions us to properly control our minds: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×). Our duty in life is not only to take in knowledge, but to mold our thoughts to think and be like Jesus Christ. We are told further: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 2 Corinthians 10:4-6  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
American King James Version×). When there are so many options from which you can choose and put into your mind, as a Christian your responsibility is to discern what information is valuable. It may feel like we are constantly receiving a flood of communication and information, but the truth is, you can opt out and simplify your mind.
The Dark Side
As with any other healthy advancement in technology, it is not long before a dark and unhealthy use of technology appears and creates outcomes that are not good. Human beings are unique among life forms in that they can voluntarily regulate attention. In 1890, noted philosopher and psychologist William James wrote about the human mind that “the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will.”
But now, our minds that once determined choice and free will are now often just reacting and succumbing to a cacophony of messages. There is a constant barrage of messages and methods that are trying to reach our inner core and dictate what we think and do. We are increasingly ruled by email, texts, streaming services, social media, games, breaking news or online shopping. Now, a surfeit, even a tidal wave of digital data hounds us constantly. Advertisers and influencers are finding increasingly new ways to reach our mind. Some of these can cause a toxic dependence on these mediums. Sometimes it might feel like we are never really left alone.
Do you feel like you are becoming a prisoner to constant communication and information? Younger people and their relationships are shaped by texting, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and others. Are we being manipulated by constant digital stimuli, the full consequences of which are not yet fully known?
Before this time in history, one woke up and consciously decided what to do next. Now, many of us begin the day bowing to email or Facebook before we even have a chance to think. A much better choice would be to bow to God and have His influence on your mind as you start your day!
The finite amount of time we have each day is the same for everyone. Yet, the amount of information is unbounded. If it is not regulated, it can overwhelm your cognitive functions and your relationship with God.
In His parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus Christ explained how the Word of the Kingdom developed after being sown. Some seed was sown by the wayside and never had a chance to germinate. Other seed fell on rocky soil that wilted after germination. But the third kind of ground is what clearly represents this context. This was the seed sown among thorns. It germinated and was on its way to fruition, but it got distracted and was choked out: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 Matthew 13:22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
American King James Version×). The relentless preoccupation with outside influences without control can distract us and tragically choke our relationship with God. If you are trying to clear your mind and talk to God, it may be a good idea to put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” so you are not interrupted.
Constant distractions can be be dangerous as we drive a vehicle, for example. Many fatalities have been caused by people responding to messages or becoming distracted by their phone while driving. But, another fatality comes in the form of turning away from words of life and turning towards endless, time-consuming trivia.
Distractions affecting our faith are addressed by the apostle Paul as he writes: “I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible” (1 Corinthians 7:35 1 Corinthians 7:35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare on you, but for that which is comely, and that you may attend on the Lord without distraction.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation).
A distracted mind can become one whose attention span can become so short that it affects our focus in prayer. We can come to a condition where we easily lose concentration and flow in prayer as we talk to God: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
American King James Version×). Yes, we can come to the point of too much information swirling in our head to where our prayers are not coherent and we need to pray for God to help us through His Holy Spirit. Has this ever happened to you?
Guard your mind. Be wary of what can deter you from having the mind of Christ. Are you letting the constant distractions choke out the presence of God and cause you not to blossom and bring righteous fruit?
Assess all the things that talk to you. Do you need to listen to them all the time? Turn some of them off and put them away so that your mind can have peace. Turn off notifications on your computer. Opt out!
The knowledge available at our fingertips can be a wonderful benefit. But unchecked, we can lose the quiet, concentrated moments with God that are crucial to building our relationship with him. Let’s take more moments to intentionally opt out of distractions and give our minds back to God!