By Alan Bailey
Social media and gaming gobbling up our attention
A psychologist recently warned parents not to check their mobile phone while getting lunch together. His point was that children watching soon grasp the idea that anytime is OK to give your attention to your demanding little plaything. They follow.
It's not unfair to say that addiction to games and social media is not far away. Instead of natural conversation around the table, there's fiddling with devices. Not healthy for growing families, especially if it is coupled with retreat by family members to their respective rooms and laptops for the evening.
In the past, addiction has been mainly associated with alcohol and drugs. But today, in our fast-moving digital age, we have been hooked on habits, some of them neutral enough, but others that are doing us harm. Sure, the alcohol and drugs are still the dominant menace but now they are joined by other distractions. So we hear of a mother, high on something, driving the kids to school in the SUV with a phone to her ear, planning her next bit of pleasure-seeking. Life-styles are built around getting all you can to satisfy your appetite.
Not really the way to go
If we are tied to a habit, repeating it over and over, we are not really free. To put it bluntly, we are slaves. Slaves don't make up their own minds; their minds are made up for them. They do what they are made to do. Now this doesn't seem right for rational human beings. It seems that our dignity is gone; we have been wrestled to the ground and our enemy has its foot on our neck. But why should a bottle, a pill, a smartphone, a fascination or anything of the like be able to hold a person to ransom, dictating their behaviour? We should be rulers over them, not them over us.
A better way
A group of proud, religious men were talking one day to Jesus. At one point He said to them "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered, "We have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8: 33-36).
You see, it is sin that is the worst kind of bondage. And we all have experienced it. But those who know the Son, Jesus, enjoy a new life of freedom. Is this sorely needed in many lives today? Yours perhaps?
We were not meant to live our lives as slaves to anyone or anything. But to live for Jesus and to serve Him is servitude of a very different kind: it is joyous. We are allied to the Lord of the universe who knows what is best for us. We rest in His love. •