Top Tips for Your Mobile Phone Relationship
Navigating life without a mobile phone can be difficult, there are so many positives to having them and yet we often simultaneously long to escape from them! Today Katie shares with us top tips on your relationship with your mobile phone, applying biblical wisdom to a situation so many of us struggle with.
For most of us, using phones and social media is a daily habit – we use them to connect with each other, stay in touch with friends close and far, and learn about what’s happening in the world. For all their benefits, however, phones can sometimes be a burden. I’ve often been distracted by the temptation of a quick scroll through Instagram or game on my phone when I should be giving my full attention to my Bible (or a sermon!), and it’s easy to get caught up in seeking validation through likes or followers. Although there are no explicit commands in the Bible about how we should and shouldn’t use our phones, there is plenty of wisdom that applies to our use of social media and technology.
1. Use your phone to keep up positive relationships and encourage others.
The beauty of technology is that we are moments away from easily connecting with friends and family both near and far. Whether you use a Snapchat streak or a weekly Facetime to stay in touch with friends from home, remaining connected over long distances reinforces the value of strong relationships. In Thessalonians we are commanded: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
This encouragement doesn’t just apply to long-distance friends! If one of your friends has a big exam coming up, a quick text of prayer or encouragement can affirm him or her. As we read in Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Social media allows us to create a meaningful and supportive community online as well as in the real world.
2. Use social media to spread the good news.
Social media also provides us with many great platforms to share the good news of Jesus. Facebook and Instagram have been used in the past to spread the word about church or CU-related events, creating an opportunity to spark discussion about Jesus with friends you otherwise may not have reached. Don’t be afraid to talk about your faith on these platforms; Matthew tells us to “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).
Furthermore, remember that if a conversation on social media turns into a heated debate, think carefully before you type a response and, if possible, try to discuss your differences in person. As we read in 1 Peter, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). It can be hard to get a measure of tone in the comments section of a Facebook post, and big questions are sometimes much better worked out in person. Remaining gentle and respectful despite your differences is a good way to embody Jesus’ message of love.
3. Look up from your screen.
Even the most well-crafted text or perfectly-timed phone call will never match the value of time spent in one another’s presence. The same could be said in Biblical times, as John writes, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Although paper and ink seems outdated to us, it was John’s version of new technology and a way of staying in touch when he was distant. But he acknowledges that true joy is found in time spent in each other’s company.
Even though we might not realise it, using phones in the presence of friends is an immediate indicator that we aren’t fully engaged with them. We are called to be present and Proverbs 23:4 tells us to “have the wisdom to show restraint.” Have a look at Rosie’s devotional on this same subject and, next time you have a coffee date, film night, meal with housemates, or late night DMC, try turning off your phone (or at least switching it to airplane mode!) and enjoy some distraction-free time.
4. Your identity is not in your social media accounts.
No matter how honest we are on social media, our online accounts will never be the full measure of our lives, and spending too much time on social media can distract us from our true identity in Jesus. I’ve certainly been tempted to measure myself against others based on how many likes a profile picture or post gets on Facebook in an attempt to feel validated or worthy online.
But Colossians 2:10 reminds us that “in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” No number of Instagram followers or little red hearts can match the unconditional love that God has given us through Jesus. When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he tells them: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Although I don’t think he anticipated phones and social media to fall under “whatever you do,” the message remains the same: our eyes should be on Jesus. Instead of seeking to gain more digital followers, we should be aiming to be better followers of Christ, living out His love in the world and online.
Katie graduated from Durham in 2016 and now works at a girls’ boarding school in Kent, where she runs the weekend programme and assists in pastoral care for the students. She loves coffee shops, knitting, and catching up with friends (any combination of the three is a bonus!)