The bell rings for the end of class, and before the last tones are absorbed by the sounds of happy students free from the classroom, a number of students have made a beeline to their locker to check their phone for a text message or other form of communication from their network of friends or family. Seeing this lively activity of contact with others makes me think about our communication with God. Do we ever run to our Bible like we run to our phone to learn what our God has to say? Do we wait with eager anticipation for our next opportunity to read the text message of our covenant Friend? In my mind I tried to picture what it would be like to see students rush to their locker just to take a peek at their Bible to find another message from God. If we all were so eager to break away from our daily tasks and use our spare moments to read God’s word and pray, what a joyful and lively spiritual life we would enjoy!
Communication is vital in developing our friendships and relationships. It’s like the sap in a plant or the life-blood of a creature—when it stops flowing, the plant or creature eventually dies. Our closest friends are those with whom we are able to share our thoughts and enjoy fellowship together on a regular basis. The bond of marriage that unites two individuals into one life grows deep and profound through steady and lively communication.
Until the recent development of technology, such friendships were for the most part limited to someone who lived nearby. The technology available now has advanced to such a degree that even distant relationships can flourish. Now it’s almost like having your friends with you all the time. Not only can we speak with them or send a text message, we can instantly share our experiences with pictures and video clips. Whether we are home, in our car, out for a walk, or on the beach, the network of cell-phone towers and orbiting satellites link us together whenever we want. Communication devices are wonderful inventions. No matter where we are or what time it is, we can talk to one another, share our thoughts and plans with pictures, voice, or text.
These amazing inventions, however, do not begin to compare with the wonderful system of communication that God has created for his people. God has created man in such a way that his life in all respects is dependent upon fellowship with his creator. Jesus answered Satan and said “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4, cf. Deut. 8:3). Apart from this communication with God, we are dead spiritually and our earthly life has no purpose but to make us more and more fit for the eternal death of hell. We get up in the morning and find purpose in our life because we know what God has created us to do.
God makes his presence and his will known to us by surrounding us in a world that displays his handiwork, by speaking and writing in human language, and (in connection with the written and spoken word) by the working of the Holy Spirit directly in our heart and soul. When we commit his word to memory, we have the most intimate words of God with us all the time. And wherever we find the Bible or the preaching, we are able to plumb as deeply as we can the depths of his word. God’s word is a message that is so clear and delightful to the child of God, yet it is so deep that we can look at it over and over, and always find something new. As we read and listen to God’s word, the Holy Spirit is there giving us understanding and causing us to grow in our fellowship and love for God.
Answering the call of God does not require any technology, but simply the attention and thoughts of our regenerated heart and mind. Even though he already knows our every thought, he delights in our consciously bringing our thoughts, cares, and concerns to him in the way of prayer. He doesn’t need us to tell him our needs and praise, but we need to do it because that is how we grow in our spiritual life with God. He requires that we pray, because he knows how much we need it for our life. He requires that we pray, because that is what he loves.
While our earthly limitations restrict our interaction with God, it is not so with God. At every moment, God knows us even to our every thought. Ever since God breathed into Adam the breath of life, our creator has always been near unto his creatures. The psalmist in Psalm 139 describes this wonderful intimacy between God and his child. There is no place in this creation where we can go and not have God near us. Nothing, really, can separate us from the love of God. Even when we in blind folly try to flee from the presence of God, he patiently seeks us out to deliver us from our foolishness and demonstrate his love and desire to bring us deeper into his own covenant fellowship.
Though it may seem like technology has the power to make our friends omnipresent, the technology is not omnipotent. Our phones get lost or destroyed. Satellites and transmission towers break down. Phones and other communication technology may be banned in school or other locations making us feel isolated, but our communion with God can continue no matter where we are or what we are doing. We only need to block our earthly senses to the point where our minds can turn to our God, and he is there, ready to listen and reply with his grace.
We live at a time of amazing inventions, and we grow to love our gadgets that connect us with friends and the world around us, but let us pray for the grace that they do not take the place of or diminish our fellowship with God. Sometimes I wonder if the final strategy of Satan in these last days for destroying the church is to so distract us that we forget God. This strategy worked well in the nation of Judah, and today our options for Baal worship have multiplied. Jeremiah cried out to the church, “O generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jer. 2:31-32). We know the minutes spent each month developing our earthly relationships; can we match it in minutes with our God? May an awareness of the time we spend with the social networks serve, by the grace of God, to spur on our time spent with God.