Be smart this Lent

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I love my smartphone and use it all the time. But I’m considering getting rid of it for Lent in an effort to be closer to God and other people. I wonder whether you might be tempted to join me?

Hebrews 12:1-2 says we are to ‘throw off everything that hinders… and fix our eyes on Jesus.’ Do you ever find your phone distracts you from more fully pursuing Jesus?

Psalm 46:10 calls us to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Yet how often are we able to really stop and seek God? Even for a moment? Most of us live convinced that we need to be permanently available and ‘in touch’, constantly checking our phone in case we’ve missed something in the last 30 seconds.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’. We’ve been created for relationship and need each other but trying to fulfil that via social media alone is dysfunctional. Do we need to message less and meet people more?

2 Timothy 1:7 says God gave us ‘a spirit of power, love and self-discipline’. Is your phone an idol? Do you wholly depend on it or could you live without it? Do you know God’s power and love within you? Do you long for greater self-control?

Maybe Lent 2019 is a great opportunity to discover how much your smartphone is holding you back in your relationship with Christ, by using it less. Here are 4 ideas to consider:

  1. Try limiting the amount of time you spend on your phone. For example, don’t use it in the evening or at weekends. Get into the habit of switching it off or at least onto ‘do not disturb’ for a period of time. (On most phones you can still allow important calls to get through on this setting – iPhones allow favourites for example.)

  2. Most of us use our phones to wake us up in the morning, grabbing our attention straight away. Why not buy a cheap alarm clock and leave your phone out of arms reach?

  3. How about giving up social media for Lent? Do we really need to have access to anything and everything that has happened in the world over the last 2 minutes? Might the head-space be a welcome relief? Try buying a newspaper instead.

  4. The most drastic of them all: give your smartphone up for Lent! Get hold of an old Blockia phone. Try it and see what difference it really makes to your life. (You might never look back…)

Philippians 4:8 instructs us to ‘think about… whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable’. If we put our smartphone to one side for 40 days could we more intentionally fill our minds with life-affirming thoughts that would build us and others up? Could we spend more time in God’s Word (how about reading one of the Gospels for Lent) and just allow ourselves space to reflect and daydream? It might just turn out to be the smartest move we ever made…

Marcus Pagnam