Who or What is Shaping Us?

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“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

This time of year emphasizes just how special it is to be with family. Gathering around a table to enjoy food and fellowship is so uniquely powerful that it is difficult to describe adequately.

In our digital age, with an emphasis on screens rather than faces, it is easy to lose sight of just how our minds and hearts are being shaped and transformed. Samuel James, a writer who has spent a great deal of time researching and thinking about the proper use of technology, has offered the following warning:

Digital technology (social media) gives a public platform to many people who would otherwise not have it. But this blessing comes at a cost. Because of the Web’s disembodied nature, things like evidence, reasoning, and expertise have become marginalized. Instead, the idea of truthfulness has devolved into a question of individual narratives. “My story is my truth” is one of the key mantras of the digital age. Traditional authority structures have given way to an ephemeral “equality” that means the random blogger is as powerful as the veteran preacher, or the anonymous Twitter account can demand deference merely with a powerful story. On the Web, we all have the power to “define” our reality, no matter how far that supposed reality may be from objective truth.

The disembodied, narrative-based culture of the Web requires Christians to know and remind each other regularly what is really true. This is a big reason why we must continue to gather together in church. Being physically together as we sing, pray, and hear truth powerfully recalibrates our sense of reality to be more in line with eternity. God’s story does not destroy our story—it transforms it, interprets it, and gives it meaning and purpose beyond “likes.”

This holiday season, as we are blessed to gather with friends and family, let us be reminded of a few important matters:

1. As good as it is to gather with family around a dinner table, it is vital to gather with our church family around the Lord’s table.

2. While we all may have unique experiences, there remains only one objective truth that all must submit to and acknowledge.

3. What we read and watch (and even how we read and watch it) molds and transforms us—let us make sure that we are being formed into the image of Jesus the Christ!

Bart Warren
South Green Street church of Christ
Glasgow, KY

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