Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vain Idols

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. -Jonah 2:8

This verse practically jumped off the page at me when I read it in church this morning.
This is me, I thought. Convicted, I made a list of the things in my life that I have set up as vain idols. I am ashamed by how many things cause me to forsake my hope of God's steadfast love.

I pondered how to best attack the vain idols and realized that the answer lies in the following verse of Jonah's prayer.

But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You;
What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

I pray that the Lord will give me the resolve to deny myself, to sacrifice my selfishness for His glory, and I pray for strength to depose the vain idols that keep me from His steadfast love.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Guilty of... gtalking?

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. - Matthew 5:29 ESV

If your computer causes you to sin, don't bring it to class...


We all know the routine. On the first day of class, professors who allow laptops in class give their “don’t use the Internet” speech, and within five minutes half of the class is online. What motivates this gross disrespect of a professor’s request?

Last Spring I always sat in the back of Dr. Cox’s Theology class. Like many of the professors who allow laptops in class, Dr. Cox asks students to disable the wireless receivers on their laptops during his class. On any given day, six of the eight laptop users g-talked incessantly and surfed the web.

I once privately confronted Jacob (name changed), who surfed and g-talked during every class. He accepted my admonition with a polite smile and didn’t say much. The next class he was g-talking and surfing just as much as ever.

I recently gtalked Jacob to ask him about his disregard for professors’ no-Internet policies.

“Hang on one sec,” he said, “I have to run to class actually. Can we pick this up in 5 minutes?”

Jacob told me he feels that his violation of his professors’ Internet policies is justified because he mostly uses the Internet for class-related pursuits, such as collaborating with a friend via gtalk to assemble their dream Hollywood cast for an adaptation of “The Odyssey.”

He said he believes that a no-Internet policy is only intended to curb behavior such as watching movies on Netflix during class, so he feels comfortable checking his email and Facebook during class.

If I was specifically asked to not do so, I'd stop in a heartbeat,” he said.

Wait. There is little room for ambiguity in a professor’s “turn off your wireless in class” directive.

Melissa agrees that there is nothing ambiguous about a no internet policy.

There's really no good rationale for it, other than not wanting to have to pay attention for the whole class,” she said.

Melissa said she realizes that her Internet use is directly defiant of her professor’s policy, but she doesn’t feel a need to reform her ways.

“I guess I kind of view it as driving over the speed limit. Technically it's wrong, but not bad enough to outweigh the benefits,” she said.

I too, have been among the ranks of guilty g-talkers and selfish surfers. Even after the Lord convicted me of my sinful disrespect, I often lost my resolve, so I stopped bringing my computer to class.

When I discussed this with my friend Catherine, she agreed that the Internet can be a “huge temptation” during class, especially for instant messaging.

“Regardless of how incredible your professor is, there are always times when the class will feel boring, you will be tired, distracted, or otherwise disinterested,” she said.

Catherine said she finds it easy to rationalize her use of gtalk as a means of investing in her fellow believers.

“This is one reason I do not bring my computer to class,” she said. “I am a genius at rationalizing selfish, lazy, disrespectful, and altogether foolish behaviors. When I am in class, it is my duty to honor my professor, especially when it is difficult, because that is when my heart is really tested.”

Let’s face it. Whatever your excuse, whatever my excuse, deliberately disobeying your professor is wrong. Although students like Melissa dismiss their disregard of Internet use policies as minor infractions, the little things do matter. Christ told His disciples, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much,” (Luke 16:10-11) On a very basic level, failure to comply with a professor’s Internet-use policy is purely selfish. Even when a student uses the Internet is used for academic purposes during class, his disregard for professor’s policy implies that he considers his own desires superior to the professor’s wishes.

One student explained, “Surfing in class is the moral equivalent of looking at porn in your dorm room. Perhaps one is in fact more heinous than the other, but it’s not that one is a sin and one is a bad idea. They’re both sins. They’re both heinous in the sight of God.”

If we cannot be faithful to respect our professors, how can we be faithful to revere the Word of the Lord? How can we change the nation and shape the culture if we cannot submit to our professors? We must begin with our own hearts, with our attitudes towards our professors.

I think Catherine said it best, “When we are in the classroom, what we do on the computer shouldn't be about us.”