Font Size » Large | SmallBy Mark Bowman On January 26, 2004, vacationers on a beach in Thailand explored a shoreline unexpectedly exposed by the receding tide. Distracted by new discoveries, many failed to notice the ocean returning. Others, who saw the approaching swells, stood mesmerized, unable to recognize their peril. Yet some people saw the danger. They ran to the nearest concrete high rise, found a “foundation on the rock,” and lived. Those who remained on the “sand” died. Jesus warned that we all face a spiritual tsunami. He described its power as having “slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall!” (Matthew 7:24-27). But the person who hears Jesus’ words “and acts on them” will live. A Spiritual Tsunami While traveling overseas recently I lost my smartphone. I spent the next two weeks without instant access to my texts, email, and social media. After the initial trauma of being detached from the World Wide Web wore off, I felt less hurried, less interrupted, less preoccupied. I was on vacation from “the screen” as well as from work! I noticed how much time everyone else spent on their screens. I thought, “Wait, I’m here with a group of people, but none of us are interacting!” I see the same dynamic when I walk into the class I teach at university. Twenty-five lit screens and no one is talking to one another! Apparently the information we receive over our “smart” devices is more interesting than being physically present with real people. From pornography to online gambling, from virtual communities of video gamers to chat rooms for every dereliction, the Internet now provides a level of virtual reality that is irresistible. Everything the human mind can conceive of is available for immediate consumption. Never has temptation reached this intensity. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), now being proposed as an official diagnosis, is facilitating the destruction of people’s marriages, jobs, and psychological well-being. Children are particularly susceptible. In his article, “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies,” Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, an addiction expert, observes: We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex … in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology…raises dopamine levels – the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic – as much as sex. More young men are living at home, working part-time or not at all, and regularly playing video games. This lifestyle isn’t due to a lack of jobs; rather, many young men are consciously choosing video games over work. The spiritual damage is even worse. We are being “choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures” through our screens that draw us away from the “Rock.” Unbelievers are kept blind to the Gospel, and the faith of believers is being shipwrecked. We are naïve about the impact of the World Wide Web on our congregations. A virtual world is replacing relationships with others and with God. We’re failing to communicate what’s at stake and how to deal with the problem on a spiritual level. “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naïve go on, and are punished for it” (Proverbs 22:3). It is as if we were to keep talking about how to “pilot the boat faster” while ignoring the fact that we’ve run aground. We must encourage one another to be intentional about walking in the Spirit, laying aside all distractions (Hebrews 12:1). We need to do whatever it takes to be more passionate about God than anything else in our lives (Matthew 22:37). Facing “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” requires supernatural power; it requires living “in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/ http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2016/0925/Why-more-young-men-are-choosing-video-games-over-a-job/ Mark Bowman is an attorney who practices church law and represents numerous Open Bible churches. He also teaches Business Communication at the University of the Pacific. He lives in Lodi, California, with his wife, Kimberley.