Why is our nation unraveling at the seams? Why is the social perversion of transgenderism being hoisted on us with missionary zeal wherever we turn? Why is there so much division over politics, race, and morality in our land? Why is so much hatred spewed against Christianity and the church? Why were hundreds of teenagers rioting and ransacking the streets of Chicago Saturday night?
I am a simple man with perhaps a simplistic answer. But I believe it must be attributed in large part to the internet. Has not the internet released the inhibition of mankind's lust with the fiery fury of hell?
The Pew Research Forum tells us 95% of teenagers have smartphones, and that’s why we’ve become so dumb. Over half of 15-17 year-olds say they use the internet almost constantly, and you have to wonder if the rest are just lying. Clearly, these teenagers are not using it to read, but rather to be on their top sites of YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. As a result, our land is increasingly visually-oriented and instantaneously connected. Or, in other words, insidiously idolatrous.
A generation ago, Neil Postman spoke about about the dangers of television (which almost seems quaint now) in his book entitled Amusing Ourselves to Death. He warned then - and we should warn far more loudly now - of the danger of leaving behind a text-based, reading culture for a visually stimulating one. After all, he reminded us that "amusing" literally means "not thinking." If anything describes this age, surely it is that we have lost our ability to think clearly.
Yet the waste of mind and time is the opposite of the commands of Scripture. In Ephesians 5:15-16, we read:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."
Wisdom sees where each step leads. Wisdom knows that the multiplied daily decisions people make have a profound impact on their souls. In Ephesians, Paul instructs the church on how to live out the gospel. He focuses on the steps believers are to take. First and foremost, he reminds the church that she is to walk so as to redeem each timely opportunity.
Note that verse 16 says we are to walk in such a way that we are “making the most of our time, because the days are evil.” Though we have clocks everywhere, on our phones, computers, and appliances - if not so much on our wrists anymore - I have to agree with James Boice. For he says, “In my opinion, most Christians do not consider time as important as it really is.” We need to learn again to watch our time.
Believers may know that each day is a gift from God. As we remember in the 118th Psalm, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Yet we fail to make most of our time because of the residuals of sin within us from the way we used to walk. Paul reminded the Ephesians how they use to walk in Ephesians 4:15-17, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
Indeed, the days are evil. Therefore, we must take to heart this call to make the most of time or we will fall back into those things of our former life. Paul has given us a specific manner by which to accomplish these aims.
The idea of "time" in Greek has two words: cronos from which we get the word "chronology," which means the passing or flow of time. The other word is kairos, which means "a timely opportunity, a significant moment." It is this second type of time that Paul is emphasizing here. The literal translation of this verse is “to redeem the time” (KJV). Colossians 4:5 says in NKJV, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time,” or in NASB “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.” In Colossians, the idea is that we will make the most of our opportunities by engaging in productive dialogue with the outside world.
Though the internet, cell phones, social media, etc., can be wonderful tools, they can also dull us. If you are spending hours gazing at some cyber person you do not know and who does not know you, be it as pernicious as pornography or as silly as a sports star, you will lose your heart for the real flesh and blood people around you. Redeem each timely opportunity that the Lord has given you by serving others. Walk wisely by being alert and making the most of every situation the Lord brings across your path.
And while you go about this sacred work, remember this. Christ is watching you.