We can define technology as the knowledge or application of efficient machines, methods or techniques “to invent useful things or to solve problems”* — that is, apart from the use of natural or human facilities, such as that of muscle power or the senses minus any tools. Hence, breaking a branch using our hands, for example, does not involve any technology, while utilizing an axe uses a tool invented to help us do things more efficiently.
Wearing sandals or shoes, in contrast to walking barefoot, can be seen as one of the first steps taken toward modern technological progress. Before humans wore protection for their feet, they could only travel so far before feeling some pain or discomfort; whereas, with sandals, they could travel much farther. In this particular case, we can say Jesus made use of a common and basic tool we hardly even consider as “technology”. Perhaps, that is because we have not really appreciated how sandals or shoes are made – whether by hand or by sophisticated machinery.
The use of clothes came about not as a result of any necessity on the part of humans, but as an indirect result of violating a law – that of the conscience. A story we all know. But do we know how our first parents felt when they had to cover their previously pristine bodies and flawless skins with the rough, smelly hide of dead beasts? Or do we realize that they wore them not to protect themselves from the elements as we do, but to cover their shame? Today, we often pride ourselves with our expensive and fashionable clothes while forgetting the very reason why we wear clothes, in the first place. It was not to look good in front of others (least of all, God), but to hide the guilt that we have become prone to for being children of Adam and Eve.
The point is that not all technology is meant to allow us to do things more quickly and more efficiently, but to enhance our own vanity, as beings who are often forgetful or neglectfully unaware. And so, we wear high heels or tight jeans, not to walk farther or help our bodies to function efficiently (note the twisted toes and feet or the constricted veins) but to, well, look good.
But culture or traditions determine the development of technology. Or is it the other way around? When Jews practiced the observation of the Sabbath or the weekly day-of-rest, they simply cooked their meals for two days to cover the Sabbath’s food supply. Today, many have cooking implements that automatically cook food on Sabbath – no work (i.e., no cooking); but the food is warm and fresh! The legal sanction is removed or “side-stepped” through technology!
Was the tradition (and the “demands” of God) maintained or satisfied? Or did technology provide a way to salve our conscience by convincing us to believe that our lives are “in the graces of God” in spite of and because of our inventive ways? Do we worship God in the simplicity of faith (“in our closet” and through “a living sacrifice”) or do we do so artificially with all the appurtenant tools and gadgets we bring along today: the interactive digital Bible in our tablet, the high-tech LED-projector-and-wide-screen displaying hymns and the gospel for all to see, the acoustically-designed hall with the well-engineered air-cooling system, lighting fixtures and audio-video equipment to accommodate as many worshipers as possible, the expensive hammer-action, 88-key electronic piano and other pitch-perfect musical instruments to allow the worship leaders to lead the praise-and-worship hour, and many more. Is God truly pleased with the noise and hassle we make, using technology, supposedly in His name?
This is a valid issue to raise at this stage in human history and development. Trying to resolve the basic questions on the use of technology in relation to our eternal destiny may help us appreciate where we are and what we can do to regain wisdom and sanity.
Alright, Jesus wore clothes and sandals. He used various tools to ply his trade as a carpenter. He visited the temple during the important yearly Jewish feasts, naturally availing Himself of the ambitious and majestic project of King David built by his son, Solomon. It was probably the most expensive, and certainly the pinnacle, of all technological achievements of the ancient Jewish nation.
At one point, He paid tax by prying a silver coin from a fish’s mouth – a very fundamental economic medium and a product of technology (mining, metallurgy, minting, monetary-banking) that rules our very lives until today. Was He showing us a facetious point that Nature (His Creation) is indeed the source of all blessings in life and that paying tax with a fish or a pound of venison would amount to the same thing? Have we forgotten the real treasures found in Nature and value only the things that our hands have created?
Read on how modern Jews are preparing for the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem and you will also see how modern technology plays a big part in it (replicating the proper materials and exact designs for the temple-worship implements – apparently, all these have been finished and ready for use, designing the reconstruction of the ancient temple itself, DNA-testing of actual descendants of Levi, who alone will qualify to serve as priests in the restored temple, and others). Ironically, to realize that dream, Armageddon might have to also come about – somehow proving our point on wisdom and sanity.
Perhaps, we are too harsh to fault the Jews in this regard. That is why we need to go back to Jesus and understand what His message was with respect to all these.
First, Jesus directly “violated” the Sabbath so many times, not just to spite the Jewish leaders, but to prove the point that He was greater than the Sabbath and that it was made for humans and not vice-versa.
Second, He prophesied the destruction of the temple (not a passive or incidental event but by His direct will – “I will destroy this temple”) in order to make way for “true worship in spirit and in truth”. Yes, He was talking about His body; nevertheless, He was also talking about His spiritual body – His kingdom that He came to establish in lieu of the Law of Moses and all its legal and ceremonial requirements.
Third, He could have entered Jerusalem as a triumphant king riding on a chariot or a royal carriage; but He rode a donkey – the most unassuming and un-adorable animal one could ever think of riding. We know what an ass is a symbol for! Jesus rode that, going to the temple that He was planning to destroy! And we want to rebuild the temple using our most modern and precise science and technology! Moreover, to achieve that, we have to wage a vicious war involving superpowers!
Fourth, Jesus died on a cross – the equivalent of the American electric chair, the French guillotine and the common practice of execution by hanging. Well, in a sense, He chose to die on a cross – hence, He “used” it, as much as they used it to kill Him.
In addition, we should not forget how the Jews used the technicality of their laws to condemn Jesus and how the Romans flogged and executed Him using their own unique techniques. All hail the state and its technology in the name of King Herod and Emperor Augustus Caesar! We can almost say: Jesus – along with righteousness, wisdom and sanity — died because of science and technology.
Civilization — thanks to the Greek and Roman experiences – owes much from the development of science and technology; we must admit. But for what price? If the Son of God died as a result of the application of civilization’s romantic affair with worldly wisdom, how much more for the thousands of people rushing headlong into the diverse fields where technology reigns supreme over human lives.
We need not go farther into specifics. Look around you and see what tools we use to make our life more comfortable and easier to live. Ironically, all these do not make dying easier to face or less fearful. Whereas Jesus sweated blood at the prospect of dying on the cross, we can have doctors who can administer some drug to ease our pain and lessen the burden of facing the inevitable.
But what technology can we get or buy to prepare our souls for the coming judgment?
Early on in human history, people learned the use of metal to create tools for building and producing food and other essential goods. Perhaps, we were meant to reach the moon and Mars to live there someday. Perhaps, we were meant to build solid structures and flying machines to allow us to see beyond the seas or rivers and the hills where we grew up. Perhaps, we were meant to experience what we now enjoy – the lovely music or entertainment we hear or see through digital gadgets or the fast and convenient journey to faraway lands via jumbo jet-planes.
We continue to zip into the future at such tremendous speed that we easily forget the essence of life. What is the essence of life?
The spirit we received from God connects us with God and His power. That power allowed Jesus to walk on water, change water into wine, heal the sick and raise the dead. That “technology”, unfortunately, science cannot duplicate or explain. Our puny tools and techniques are no match to the incredible force at His disposal then and now.
The essence of life is its eternal nature. This was and this is Jesus’ message. Just as God allowed the people of Babylon to acquire knowledge to build a tower, he allows us to use technology to accomplish what we have achieved today. However, there is a line beyond which we cannot cross. When human pride gets in the way of God into human hearts, destruction follows. The pride of life – along with the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes – brought the fall in the beginning.
If Christ were to live today, what technology would He use? That would make an interesting story!
King David, the mighty warrior, pictured God as a warrior sharpening his sword and bending His bow to shoot arrows at His enemies (Psalm 7). In the same manner, perhaps, leaders today make use of high-tech destructive weapons in order to fight their enemies. And many of them, on either side, believe they fight for God.
Jesus Christ is coming again to claim final victory over His enemies. His hosts of avenging angels were pictured in the past as carrying swords. Today, we can imagine them bearing automatic rifles or rocket launchers, without changing the essence of the narrative — although we lose much of the romanticism or the “simplicity” of it all. Either way, guts rupture and blood flows!
But be warned, the weapons of war that God uses and provides for His people have remained the same and have retained their great power. Those who know what they are and how to use them do so only because they see directly into the mind of Christ, not through human-invented thoughts or ideas.
Which reminds us: What other technology did Jesus use? He read a book.
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
– From the movie “The Matrix”
(Photo above: Courtesy of www.google.com)