Just Google It
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
Written by Pastor Eric Risner
"Just Google it."
Twenty years ago, this phrase didn‘t exist. Now, just think of how often we speak and hear this exact sentence. The meaning behind this simple statement has changed our world and individual lives forever. Don't believe me? Just Google it.
At Our Fingertips
There was a day that when couples needed parenting advice, they called their own parents. A dinner recommendation? They asked a friend. Perhaps they read something in the Bible they didn't understand. They would have to wait and inquire about it until they attended a Bible study or saw their pastors/elders. There was a time that when something was on the tip of our tongues or we couldn't recall what movie a certain actor had previously appeared in, it remained forgotten until we somehow remembered (or, more likely, didn't care to know the answer anymore).
Those days are long gone.
What's our first instinct when we don't know something now a days? Simply whip out our phones and find the answer.
Don't get me wrong. It is incredibly convenient and helpful to have expert advice a click away. It has served me well in many significant ways. Honestly, I cannot fathom planning a vacation without typing what seems like hundreds of questions into search engines. But, just like most things that can enhance our lives and make them more enjoyable, there are some 'side effects' that may hinder us—especially when it comes to our spiritual lives.
Living in a Google World
This is not referring to seeing the 'Google' logo plastered everywhere. It refers to the mindset that we have adopted as a result of having a resource like Google at our fingertips. It has contributed to turning us into a 'now' type of people. We want answers—now. We want information—now. We want everything—now.
We process so much information each day—almost a constant stream of words, ideas, and numbers—that we tend to forget much of what goes into our minds.
We disregard information quickly and are always ready to move on to the next story or answer.
Yet, many Christians cannot imagine growing in their faith without the help of technology. They read their Bibles on their phones, watch sermons from various Bible teachers, and listen to podcasts during a large portion of their day. When they have a question about the Bible or a specific spiritual topic, they pull out their phones and Google it. Instantly they can access the most sought-after opinion and teaching regarding their question. There's nothing inherently sinful about any of those actions. They actually sound helpful and beneficial. Most pastors would probably want their congregations doing such activities. But, if we're not careful, we can allow our phones to function in the role that is meant to be fulfilled by our local church. Here is what I mean.
It doesn't require us to grow in humility. As a part of the body of Christ, some of the answers we need, and what is necessary to receive so that we spiritually grow, is deposited in other believers. Ones we can see and touch; people in our local church. When we simply type our questions into a search engine, we don't need to humble ourselves before others and ask for help. We can do it privately from the comfort of our couches. It's a humbling act to ask for help or advice from others in an area where you may be struggling. That is why many find it much easier to open an app and listen to a podcast that addresses our specific struggle.
The gospel encourages us to be open and honest with those we worship with.
Living in a Google world can make it seem like it's possible to escape from having to do that.
We fall short of what Christ calls his body to do and be. God calls us to serve one another and to use the gift he gave us to help others (1 Peter 4:10), exhort and encourage each other (Heb. 3:13), and to teach other members of the body of Christ (Col. 3:16). We are all weak and need spiritual strength. God calls us to find that strength in the giftings and presence of others. But often we tend to pull out our phones when we need encouragement or wisdom. We Google what our favorite pastor or Christian website says about what we are going through. Nothing wrong this, but it should not be our primary and first option for receiving what we need. The body of Christ is designed and called to fill that role. When we think about why we are growing and how we are being discipled, we should be able to think of (and probably name) those in our local church who are teaching us, encouraging us, and serving us. If the source of our spiritual growth is coming from outside of our local church, we will miss God’s ‘best’ for our lives.
It plays into a dangerous view of the body of Christ. 21st Century Christians tend to have a favorite pastor/preacher that they enjoy listening to with the help of technology. They have favorite authors, favorite blogs, and favorite programs. When we are overly connected to our “favorites,” we tend to view some Christians as more important and others as less important. We can dismiss what a poor widow may say to us in the hallway of our church because we are able to hear teaching from one of the most popular pastors on the planet using our phones. We may not say it (or admit it), but we tend to elevate some Christians above others. We consider some Christians more valuable. It’s easy to see in our culture. Some pastors, authors, and church leaders have attained an almost ‘celebrity’ status among believers. I am grateful for those men and women; they have helped me immensely. But who does the Bible say is the most needed and necessary?
Those parts of the body that we seldom notice or see; the people who are behind the scenes, quietly serving, and being faithful. The poor widows who encourage us in hallways and raise their arthritic hands to Jesus each Sunday.
It fights against a necessary aspect of our spiritual growth. The art of waiting. Nothing lasting happens quickly. As God sanctifies us and teaches eternal truths, there will be seasons of life where answers don’t come. Almost as if heaven is silent. We will have to ‘wrestle’ with God, waiting on him to fulfill his Word. More so than ever, we struggle with this reality. We think we can read one article, find six steps, or pray one certain prayer and avoid all this waiting and wrestling. But we can’t. It’s a part of our journey with Christ. Living in a Google world has programmed us to think that, when this happens, something is wrong. But it’s not. It is a necessary and normal aspect of our spiritual lives and growth.
They Can't Hug You
I love using technology to stir up my affections for Christ. I love listening to sermons, reading blogs, and perusing different Christian websites. But here is what I have found out. As helpful as those things are, they can’t hug you. They can’t put their hand on your shoulder and cry with you; they can’t embrace you and pray over you when you are going through the roughest season of your life. In short, they can’t be the body of Christ.