Our Church Service on August 28 will take place at 4734 Samish Point Rd, Bow WA 98232 at 11 am

Recovering Work in a Digital Age - Technology and the Christian Life

May 28, 2023    Andrey Bulanov


1. Satisfaction comes through production, not consumption.

2. Easy everywhere is a lie; delight comes through battling difficulty.

3. True labor comes from the Lord's rest.

Scripture References:

• Genesis 1:28

• Genesis 2:15

• Matthew 28:19-20

• Proverbs 13:4

• Prov. 21:25

• 1 Timothy 4:7-10

• 1 Cor. 9:24-27

• Matthew 11:28-30

• Hebrews 12:1-2

Application questions:

• Are you resting in Jesus and his finished work?

• Are there ways in your life that you are being manipulated by a culture of consumption and lies of an easy life?

• Does your faith in the gospel change the way you see work and the way you approach challenges in life?

Discussion Questions:

• What are some of the biggest ways you see technology impacting your view of work and productivity?

• What is good work? How does it differ from bad work?

• How does the Bible speak to our work ethic? How do we apply a biblical view on work as we think about technology?

• How does the gospel give us infinite fuel to live a fruitful life?

"Entertainment and social media have had both positive and negative impacts on human behavior and productivity. While they offer various benefits, they can also contribute to certain forms of laziness or decreased motivation. Here are a few ways in which entertainment and social media can potentially contribute to laziness:

1. Sedentary Lifestyle: Engaging in excessive screen time for entertainment purposes, such as binge-watching television shows or spending long hours on social media, can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. Instead of participating in physical activities or pursuing productive endeavors, individuals may opt for passive forms of entertainment that require minimal effort.

2. Procrastination: Social media platforms and online entertainment provide easy access to a constant stream of content and distractions. This can lead to procrastination, as individuals may prioritize scrolling through social feeds, watching videos, or playing games over completing important tasks or engaging in more meaningful activities.

3. Reduced Physical Activity: Spending excessive time on entertainment and social media platforms can lead to a decrease in physical activity. People may choose to stay indoors and engage with digital content rather than participating in outdoor activities or exercise. This sedentary behavior can contribute to health issues and a lack of physical fitness.

4. Comparison and Demotivation: Social media platforms often showcase carefully curated highlights of people's lives. Constant exposure to these idealized representations can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-comparison, and demotivation. Instead of taking active steps toward personal goals, individuals may become passive observers, feeling discouraged or lacking the drive to pursue their aspirations.

5. Attention Span and Productivity: The fast-paced, easily consumable nature of entertainment and social media content can affect attention spans and productivity. Constant exposure to bite-sized content, such as short videos or rapid-fire updates, may make it more challenging for individuals to concentrate on tasks that require sustained effort and focus."

what is also interesting is that this whole introduction was not written by a person - it was written by a computer.

Some of you may have heard of chat GPT - the first popular level artificial intelligence program available for free to the public. It is designed as a friendly assistant that can answer any question you ask it with fairly high level accuracy.

It is a computer brain that does mental work for you.

I asked this question AFTER my sermon outline and all my content and conclusions were written.

But it really threw me for a loop because I was thinking, "Is this a better outline than I made??"

What is the point of me researching and thinking for hours when I could have asked chat GPT and gotten this outline??

This is perhaps another way that technology creates a struggle in our relationship to work - as it gets more and more advanced - it makes us question that value and significance of our work.

We were having a debate a few weeks ago with Victor, about where or not robot lawn mowers will make mowing the lawn yourself totally useless in the next 10 years.

It also makes the rest of us who have spent our lives mowing the lawn question - "hm, what was the value of all that time i spent mowing the lawn??"

Seeing that work is one of the most important aspects of our lives, it is critical that we take time to also think carefully about how we can be intentional in our thinking about work and technology.

1. Satisfaction comes through production, not consumption.

One of the reigning ideas that drives our current cultural moment is the idea that you will get satisfaction through consumption.

You will be happy and satisfied is you finally get everything you want and crave. And even more than that, you will be even more satisfied when you allow the culture around you to help you DISCOVER NEW CRAVINGS that you didn't know you had!

This is the exciting new discovery Steve Jobs made and why Apple has been so successful - it is a company that didn't just satisfy people's cravings - it satisfied cravings they didn't know they had!

People were not asking for the ability to binge watch through a season of a TV show on their phone. That was not something that was demanded by the costumers.

"Gosh this is so fun....what OTHER fun things and delights await me in the digital world?""

Its the Willy Wonka factory for the entertainment hungry human heart.

And it continually strengthens the idea into our hearts and minds that we will find delight and satisfaction through more consumption.

It is this idea that has fueled marketing and advertising, it has led the design of apps and video games.

Just so much fun. And there is an endless quest - once one thing stops satisfying just go grab the next thing!

This is why binging 5 episodes of a TV show sucks a person in even though they most often wouldn't plan to sit down and watch that much TV - its why scrolling through random videos for an hour loops someone in - its the same concept of a slot machine in the casino - its the idea that just a little bit more and I will really get what I am looking for.

Satisfaction through consumption.

Its very hard to resist.

Running completely opposite to this idea, is the message of the Bible that we are designed and created to cultivate satisfaction in life through production - through the process of good work and productivity in the world.

Genesis 1:28

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Genesis 2:15

15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We are called, both in creation and in redemption to parttake in the work of God in the world.

We are called to spend our lives pouring out energy, heart, soul and body to working and accomplishing things that bring good to the world.

What is good work?

Two levels of good work

• We follow the beauty of God's design of creation by reflecting God's character in caring for the world and making it a better place for life in it to flourishing and multiply.

• We follow the beauty of Gods plan of redemption by engaging in the work of the gospel - pursuing Christ, battling our sins, serving Jesus and other people with our lives.

Being a construction worker is good work. Being a mother is good work. Being a lawyer who helps protect people from legal abuse and financial disaster is good work. the list goes on.

Not all work is good work. Being a weed shop owner is not good work. Building casinos is not good work. Being a social media influencer or YouTube who posts dishonest and ridiculous videos for people to waste their time on is not good work.

We are created to derive our deepest satisfaction from giving our whole self - heart, mind and strength - to bringing spiritual and physical good to the world.

Satisfaction through production.

The digital world is designed to teach us the opposite - satisfaction through consumption.

Which one is right?

That is easy. God is always right.

But also, look around.

A culture of consumption fosters more consumption and deeper laziness. What are the defining struggles of the world? Financial problems - not because we don't make enough to survive, but because we spend more than we make.

Health problems - not because we don't have enough to eat but because we eat too much. Psychological problems - not because we don't have enough self esteem and affirmation but because we are obsessed with personal needs and preferences.

Proverbs 13:4

"The slacker craves, yet has nothing,

but the diligent is fully satisfied."

Laziness and consumption make us miserable.

This points to an important clarification about our deepest spiritual battles - the devil does not need to turn us all into evil murderers - he just needs to do whatever he needs to do to get you derailed off of God's calling for you.

The constant mind clogging presence of entertainment and social media creates a daily struggle to not really be engaged in our work with our whole heart, mind and soul.

If he can get you to simply STOP laboring in the things you are made for - he has succeeded. You will do the rest yourself as you deteriorate.

Prov. 21:25

A slacker’s craving will kill him because his hands refuse to work.

What is your view of work? Do you see it as a blessing, and an essential way that you honor God and bring good to the world?

Or do you see work as the necessary discomfort you must get through so that you can get back to scrolling, or watching, or shopping - or any other method of consumption that every screen around you is trying to sell you today?

What is your deepest drive or motivation? Is it about the things that you want to build and accomplish in life or the things you want to consume?

2. Easy everywhere is a lie; delight comes through battling difficulty.

One of the biggest reasons we enjoy technology so much at its finest is because it feels like magic. You press a button, and it just works.

a little robot that drives around the house and vacuums and sweeps for you

a machine in your kitchen that washes all your dishes for you

a program that answers questions better than a full time paid research assistant and writes better than a college senior

Andy Crouch has a FASCINATING chapter on magic in his newest book on technology, and he defines the historic quest for magic as the desire to get results without effort.

The promise of technology lures us in with the idea that life can be EASY and easy everywhere.

The goal of many inventors of the last 50 years is that machines could do all the work for us making free to live a life of leisure.

To be clear - it is GOOD that so much technology today has made our lives easier and in many ways more productive.

The danger is that we follow it in the false conclusion that the GOAL of everything is to make life easier and easier - the goal of life is to avoid effort and resistance.

This is PRECISELY what makes our self control so difficult when it comes to watching TV or scrolling on the phone - it is so EASY. Even if you have gotten to the point where you feel miserable - its easier to click next episode or keep scrolling than to turn it off and face your gross feelings and move on with the day.

This is what makes video games so addictive and enslave so many men and boys - it gives you an alternative world where you have have dominion, where you can accomplish GREAT and POWERFUL things - all while sitting on the couch.

This is why social media leads a lot of people to depression and demotivation - because it is constantly presenting you with the RESULTS of what people have done with their lives - their homes, their cars, their families - and it makes it all look so simple and easy.

It makes you crave results, while also making you less and less willing to face the hard slow process of GETTING those results.

"“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a common question asked of children, and it has a new most common answer: a YouTuber. A 2018 Harris Poll that surveyed three thousand kids ages eight to twelve found that 30 percent of kids in the United Kingdom and 29 percent of kids in the United States would like to be a “Vlogger/YouTuber” when they grow up—the most common answer, followed by teacher, athlete, musician, and astronaut.

A similar study conducted by Morning Consult in 2019 found that 54 percent of thirteen- to thirty-eight-year-olds would be an influencer if given the opportunity. Why do so many kids and young adults want to be some kind of influencer? Because our intimate relationship with social media and the complex algorithms that serve us our delicious content has presented the possibility that we could be paid to simply share pictures and videos of our beautiful, lavish lifestyles." (Chris Martin, "The Wolf in Their Pockets")

It is awesome that technology has transformed some of the most difficult aspects of life.

But this idea that we need to have EASY EVERYWHERE or that EASY is BETTER is a LIE.

This is really the heart of the lie in Eden - eat the fruit, and you will get superpowers.

1 Timothy 4:7-10

7 But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness. 8 For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 For this reason we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

1 Cor. 9:24-27

24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. 26 So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

The most important and most precious things in your life are accomplished through intense struggle.

The more intense the struggle, the deeper the satisfaction it leads to.

Paul is one of the most joyful, energetic and alive people in all the Bible. He is so captivated by the beauty of the gospel and the goodness of God, that joy moves him to live all in - to labor, to give himself to a life of knowing God and serving others.

It is in our growth and our perseverance and struggle through challenges that we are forced to draw on Gods strength in our lives, to depend on him, to become greater than we are - to display his power in our lives.


• this is a principle that soaks into EVERY aspect of our life

We are built for the fight - both physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.

What do you do when you meet resistance in life?

With the social media culture of self centeredness everything has to be the right vibe. Even when we get to work we gotta "feel it" we gotta "get motivated" - we think it has to "feel authentic"

99% of the time that is just our lazy selfishness twisting and squirming like a two year old in the high chair - the solution is not to "wait for the vibe" it is to push back hard against our laziness and get to work.

It is one of the most important spiritual habits in our lives that when we face resistance our response is not to cave in or run away but to push throw the resistance.

We face resistance EVERYWHERE in life - from the moment we open our Bibles, to the moment we face difficulty in our relationships, to the urge to start work and be productive.

We have to cultivate the expectation that my joy comes in the fight, in my daily battle with self control and the challenges God has set before me.

If you have the hope and power of the Living God burning inside of you, it means you can now learn the courage of expecting pressure and difficulty - and being able to persevere and work through it.

This totally changes the way you view technology in your life.

Andy Crouch again makes the helpful distinction between viewing technology as a device versus viewing it as a tool.

A device is easy and gets things done for you.

A tool expands your abilities but it only works as you learn to use it effectively.

Tools are powerful, but they require the difficult process of learning to use them well.

This is why I don't think it works to just cut technology out and call it good. Its like saying, the power saw is too dangerous, I will stick to the regular hand saw. Ok, but you are also cutting yourself off from the powerful potential this tool has.

As God's people we have the power to utilize all of creation for God's glory and our good. But it takes work and perseverance and complexity to make technology work for YOU and your benefits.

Buying the lie of easy everywhere makes you a slave, turns YOU into the tool.

Embracing your calling to overcome weakness and temptation by the power of God's Spirit makes you the master.

3. True labor comes from the Lord's rest.

During the 1990's psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi became fascinated about idea of what gives people the deepest sense of happiness and satisfaction in life.

He observed people who became completely absorbed in their work - artists, athletes, authors - any person working.

He noticed this thing that happens to us in the peak of our work - a state he called "flow" - a condition when a person becomes totally focused in their work, where it seems easy, where time flies, where a person forgets about other distractions or anxieties - a kind of peaceful state of being absorbed in your work.

And as you exit flow - as you finish your work - there is a deep sense of calm, satisfaction and gratitude.

This is an experience universal to all people - no matter what culture or economic background.

But we don't enter into this state instantly - flow is preceded by an initial phase in the beginning of our work with anxiety, distraction, mixed emotions and motivations - as we settle into the task.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” (Csikszentmihalyi)

This is an essential feature of how God designed us. That deep satisfaction comes through difficulty.

How do we get the motivation to work harder? to be self controlled? where do we get the power?

At the end of the day that is the message of every other religion and motivational podcast.

The gospel goes deeper than that. It also points to our hearts and says, "yeah, left to ourselves we are slackers and slugs"

The call to be a christian in an age of digital distraction and laziness is not the call to join a club of elite productivity experts who run 15 miles a day and have zero distractions and perfect self control.

At the end of the day, the drive to be super self controlled and productive, and the drive to be a lazy slug who sits on the couch all day watching TV is the same drive - its the drive that says I am the one who saves me.

We have a Savior who invites us into the rest of his finished work. And he invites us to get our joy, our drive, our power and motivation from what HE has done on our behalf.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Its interesting here that Jesus says that HE gives us a burden - Jesus does not invite you to come be a leech from his grace.

He invites you to take HIS burden. But his burden is very different than the burden that YOU carry yourself.

Your burden is the burden of your own sinfulness and your weakness, your need to be forgiven and redeemed. This is the burden he came to take. He became a man to take our sin and to pay the debt we could never pay to make us right with God.

He says, "I came to do the work, the work that you could never do. The job that was beyond your ability."

Ill take your burden, and I will give you mine. I will give you a job and a calling.

Come and follow me. Come and join my kingdom. Come and join my work of redeeming the world through the work of the gospel.

But this burden is light. It is WORK. Its hard. But its going to be a life lived out of strength and power and joy because it is fueled by my finished work and by the strength I give you.

Flow is sort of a picture of the gospel because there is the initial burden, the initial challenge - that leads to a life of true power that is light and satisfying. You have to come to the cross with your sin. You have to embrace how weak and broken you are - only then you can come to the Savior in total surrender and dependence - you can give him your burden and you can take on his.

Hebrews 12:1-2

"Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

True labor comes from the Lord's rest. Our most powerful living and strength comes from our deep grasp of God's grace and love in our lives, our intimate fellowship with him, our experience of his presence and his care and his calling for us.

this is why as christian we can live lives that are deeply productive and self controlled - but we also don't become judgmental, critical and legalistic about it towards others.

Let's take a minute in prayerful meditation.

• Are you resting in Jesus and his finished work?

• Are there ways in your life that you are being manipulated by a culture of consumption and lies of an easy life?

• Does your faith in the gospel change the way you see work and the way you approach challenges in life?