Recently I read an article on the impact of high-speed technology on our culture, particularly on young people. These words grasped my attention: “The culture surrounding technology is obsessed with efficiency, and hatred for time consuming eats away at us like flesh-eating bacteria, Infinite abysses can be filled only by infinite objects in infinite time.” (Justin Kim). Observing that many school age kids “live on their phones” has provoked a spiritual response drawn out of my experience of the presence of God in prayer. This response will be as Christ-centred as possible.
As a young man I was far too rationalistic, speculative, and philosophical. Consequently, with some level of regret, my Ph. D was titled The Timelessness of God. On the positive side however, its historical survey amply demonstrated that ancient and medieval culture had a profound awareness of the centrality of eternity. The huge dome of Hagia Sophia in Byzantium and the lofty vaults of European cathedrals were designed to overwhelm the worshipper with a sense of the immensity of God. A deity who in Jesus however had humbled himself. As Charles Wesley unforgettably put it, “Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made man.” Observing young folk inside and outside of the Church I must conclude that this generation has been robbed, perhaps like no previous one, of an awareness of eternity.
Looking Unto Jesus
In prayer to his Father, Jesus was conscious of “the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John chapter 17 verse 5). The content of thisblissful beatific vision is expounded by John when he testifies of “the Lamb slaughtered before the world was made” (Revelation chapter 13 verse 8). Since this is the Lamb now “standing as slain” (Revelation chapter 5 verse 6), that is, resurrected-and-crucified, we discern that what has forever transfixed the gaze of God himself is the “eternal gospel” (Revelation chapter 14 verse 6). The lens through which God sees everything and which moved him to make the universe, is what ordinary finite mortals believe and speak, the gospel. To put the same subject more concisely, eternity is Christomorphic, eternity is all about Jesus!
When as a very new Christian I was confronted by scriptures like this one, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ” (Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4), my thinking went through a total reorientation. I was confronted with the brute fact that the meaning of life could not be about me, because I never existed God made the world, meaning was all about Jesus. the good news was that it was about a Lord who had forever chosen me to be with him! The security this brought to the soul of a once paranoid introvert was indescribable. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.
I must say, with considerable grief, that the current obsession with devices and phones and their ceaseless flux of ultimately inconsequential posts and pods is robbing a generation of knowing the long sought for “beatific vision”. It is possible, by grace, unpredictably, though regularly, to see in the Spirit into the utter greatness of the love of God and all things that have proceeded from it. The narrow entry point into this prophetic glorious vision (Proverbs chapter 29 verse 28) is the hard way with the narrow gate that leads to life found by very few (Matthew chapter 7 verse 14). If the post-mortem Jesus is truly, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation chapter 22 verse 13), no -one, no matter how sophisticated their technologies, can escape the truth that a vision of glory depends on long painful struggle.
Fall to Prayer
Almost 4 decades ago the Lord required of me the first hour of my day in prayer. Throughout the year, dark or light, hot or cold, dry or wet, I can be found on the streets of my suburb interceding. Contrary to some who fail to understand spiritual depths, I am not “struggling with the elements”, but enjoying life with Christ “beyond the elements” (Ephesians chapter 2 verse 6). And you too are called into this glorious space without limits where Jesus is completely Lord.
When time is treated like an enemy to be consumed instead of a reality triumphed over by Christ, old age and chronic illness will be experienced as a “terrible thing”. This is the cursed state that awaits a generation that presently lives on their devices. The one and only unlimited solution is: “the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 10).
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html