Desktop Computer Christians Part 4
The No-Computer Christians
Scriptures: John 15:18-19; John 17:14-16; Romans 12:2
This morning I will conclude my series on “Desktop Computer Christians.” Part four of this series is titled “No-Computer Christians.”
As you recall from parts one through three of this series, the primary difference between a desktop computer Christian and the laptop or tablet computer Christian is the laptop/tablet computer Christian’s ability to fulfill the commission that Jesus has called all of us to – to go out and make disciples of all nations. The desktop computer Christians do not make God an active part of their everyday life and keep Him assigned to Sundays and/or other religious services/places. They do not strive to be able to know enough about God’s word as that is something that should be left for those who are actually “called” into ministry work. The laptop and tablet computer Christian has a different perspective on how God interacts with Christians. They believe that God is active on a daily basis with all of His children versus only those called into ministry work. They believe it is their responsibility to not only know God but more important, to represent Him to the world. They are not ashamed of Him and thus do not believe that Christians should only interact with God on Sundays. One of the limitations of the tablet computer Christian as compared to the desktop and laptop computer Christian are the severe, sometimes non-biblical restrictions they place on individuals desiring to be a Christian. Those restrictions which are very similar to how the Pharisees lived during Christ days often causes the converts to not walk in the freedom that Christ gave us. They also cause some “potential” converts to reject Christ all together as they cannot meet the demands and/or imposed restrictions that are required in order to be considered a Christian. Unlike the tablet computer Christian, the no-computer Christians operate without the restrictions of the tablet computer Christian. These Christians generally believe what they have learned about God and but also place importance on what they experience with Him. Their life is about knowledge and experience on a very personal level. Let me share a few facts with you.
I. Benefits of No Computer
In 2005 a computer hardware company did a study and found that 24% of Americans did not own a computer or other cellular device. In 2010 another study confirmed that 30% of Americans do not access the internet either at home or at any other location. They have no desire for a computer or for the vast amount of information that can be accessed from the internet. While this may seem strange to those of us who access the internet daily, for these individuals their lives exist just fine without that need. People without computers and the internet tend to spend more time personally interacting with people versus all of those electronic messages that are so popular now. I believe that some of them would actually find it offensive to receive a personal communication by text message or an email when they are accustomed to that “personal/live” touch. The advantages that we see with electronics are not what they see and in some cases they see them as a great disadvantage.
For example, the traditional Amish communities do not use computers or many other electronic “things” that we consider to be necessities of living. There are now about 200,000 Old Order Amish living in more than 200 settlements in the United States and Canada; the largest communities are in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. The Amish (sometimes called Amish Mennonites) are members of an Anabaptist Christian denomination who are especially known for their separation from society; for living in isolated Amish communities; for the rejection of most modern technology; and for their distinctly conservative dress. (Interesting is the name “Anabaptist” which means to “re-baptize over and over.” This term was given to an earlier Christian “movement” during the Reformation era who believed and taught that infant baptism was not scriptural and that a person should be baptized only after they have been taught about Christ and have freely chosen to accept Him as their Savior. It was not an “endearing” term as most people during that time believed in and practiced infant baptism.)
The Amish are averse to any technology which in their opinion weakens the family structure. The conveniences that the rest of us take for granted such as electricity, television, automobiles, and telephones are considered to be a temptation that could cause vanity, create inequality, or lead the Amish away from their close-knit community and, as such, are not encouraged or accepted in most orders. Most Amish cultivate their fields with horse-drawn machinery, live in houses without electricity, and get around in horse-drawn buggies. It is common for Amish communities to allow the use of telephones, but not in the home. Instead, several Amish families will share a telephone in a wooden structure between farms. Electricity is sometimes used in certain situations, such as electric fences for cattle, flashing electric lights on buggies, and heating homes. Windmills are often used as a source of naturally generated electric power in such instances. They believe in the importance of individual Bible study and the necessity of living a life free of sin after adult baptism. The Amish are primarily set apart from other Mennonites in their great emphasis on the values of humility, family, community, and separation from the world.
II. In The World But Not Of The World
The no-computer Christian exemplifies the spiritual concept of being “in” the world but not “of” the world. Turn with me to John 15:18-19. “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
John 17:14-16 says “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Jesus stressed that His disciples and the others listening to and accepting Him were not “of” this world even though they were living “in” the world. What does this mean? The word of means “to come from something”. For example, “the east side of the city” or “the poems of Maya Angelou”. In each situation the word “of” shows that there is a definitive relationship between the two as one actually comes from the other. The word “in” however, means something totally different. It means “something that appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else.” Let me explain it this way. If I am making chili there is only one ingredient that makes it chili – the seasoning. I can make chicken chili, vegetarian chili, beef chili, turkey chili, etc. I can add pinto beans, red beans, white beans or no beans at all. It is not necessarily all of the “additional” ingredients that define the chili – it is the “chili” seasoning that makes it chili. Everything else goes “in” to the chili, but it is the seasoning that makes it chili. You can combine all of the other ingredients into a pot and it will make a tomato based soup, but it becomes chili when you add the chili seasoning and/or chili peppers.
What Jesus was saying is that we are in the world (like the beans or meat in the chili) but not of the world (the actual chili seasoning/peppers that makes it chili). We live in this world but spiritually we have been “removed” from the world. In other words, the world no longer define the core of who we are as we are now in Christ and therefore God’s children. Our origin which once was the world is now been returned to God through Jesus Christ. Adam’s sin no longer defines who we are. But let me get back to the no-computer Christian.
The no-computer Christian lives in the world but does not have all of the worldly “distractions” because they have chosen to limit their exposure to some areas. The laptop and tablet computer Christians because they are so portable, have more opportunities to be influences by the world because they see more of it. They are not closed off to what is going on outside of their immediate circle of influence. Because they are interacting with a variety of people with different backgrounds, there are times when they will choose to be more accepting of things in the world versus being labeled because of the firm stance they take with God’s word. Although the no-computer Christian restricts what they expose themselves to and their influence might not be as broad as that of the laptop or tablet computer Christian, their temptation to take on the ways of the world is not as great either. They put into practice what Paul says in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” To keep themselves from conforming to the worlds’ standards, they focus more on transforming how they think to better align themselves with God. Because the world says certain things should be acceptable and approved of, they do not go along with the world if it goes against God’s word. This is how the Amish have chosen to live and without all of the negative influences of the modern day world they do not have to deal with some of the modern “issues” being promoted by the world.
As it relates to the great commission, the no-computer Christian will attempt to fulfill the great commission through their sphere of influence on an individual basis. While they can be just as portable as the laptop or tablet computer Christian, they choose to walk in a different manner. Like the desktop computer Christian, they can sometime see God as being defined by some limitation. While they understand that God is everywhere, their decision to restrict their influence and access to certain things can impede God fully using them for His service. As with the laptop computer Christian they share the idea of fulfilling the great commission through their portability even but their method is quite different. Their access to information is limited by their choice to restrict how they receive information so they focus on the more personal approach to outreach. And finally just like the tablet computer Christian who is defined by the restrictions they have in place to determine who can be a Christian, the no-computer Christian also implements restrictions on how they walk in their relationship with Christ. While they may not have restrictions that define what a “good” Christian is, they do implement restrictions as it relates to how a Christian interacts with the world. Some of these restrictions can have the same impact on a new convert’s life as the restrictions of the tablet computer.
There is one additional point I would like to make about the differences between a desktop, laptop and a tablet computer Christian versus a no-computer Christian. I want you to consider two situations in the natural that impact people who own computers that have no impact on those who do not. The first situation is a storm with lightning. If you have a computer that is plugged into an electrical wall outlet, even if you have a surge protector, if your house is struck by lightning it could totally destroy your computer. You would lose all of your data files which would include being able to do any additional research as the computer would be destroyed. The second situation is when you are traveling on a plane with your laptop or tablet computer. You are required to turn it off during takeoff and landing. During this time you are not able to access any of your files because the computer is turned off. For the individual who does not own a computer, they never have this problem. Of course they could always get struck by lightning but not because they are plugged into a wall outlet. When they get on a plane, they have nothing to turn off as everything that they need to access is stored in their heads. How would this look from a Christian standpoint?
Computer Christians can face some limitations when they go through storms. While they are dependent on having access to a vast amount of data through varying resources, when those resources are not available to them they sometimes do not have much within to draw on. The resources that they are so used to having can eventually become a crutch stopping them from ever internalizing what they need to know. The no-computer Christian, because they do not have access to all of the different resources available to the computer Christian must store what they need to know internally. They learn the information versus learning “how” to access it. There is a difference when you can speak to something you know versus knowing where to go to get the information. As in the case with an electrical storm or being on a plane, knowing where to go to get the information does not help you because you’re not allowed to use the devices that enable you to gain access to the information. But when you know it, you have access to it during a storm and while you’re on a plane because you have it internally. It is within you because you have planted it there. It continues to grow within you because you’re feeding it as you continue to grow and learn. Does this make sense?
In this series I have shared with you from my limited perspective four types of Christians utilizing as a point of reference a computer. Each type of Christian has unique attributes relating to how they serve God on a daily basis. While not all of the attributes are positive, there are qualities of each type of Christian that make them of benefit to God. As I wrote this series the one point that I wanted to make in this closing message is that there are no perfect Christians – yet. While we are all striving to be the best that we can, we have not been perfected yet so as Paul said, we keep pressing towards the mark (Phil. 3:12-14). We cannot stop moving forward in our personal development. When you consider the “primary” type of Christian that you are based on the four descriptions that I shared with you, are you willing to adjust to become better? Are you willing to take the best of each to strengthen any area of weakness that you may have presently?
We serve an awesome God who is more than capable of handling all of our issues. He is willing to bring us into His presence while at the same time allowing us to continue to be in this world. The choice is ours and we must make it with all sincerity. There is work for us to do and it is time that we truly begin to make a difference in this world. If you must start with your immediate family, do that. Then branch out into your community; your city; state and wherever you go. But the goal is to actually start somewhere. Are you willing?
As you live this week, I pray that you will be sensitive to God as He leads you to reach out to someone to share His good news – what He is doing in your life.
May God bless and keep you is my prayer.