Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
In the July/August edition of the Atlantic Monthly, there is a fascinating feature story by Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains.”
There is no question about it, Google is a marvelous tool. The entire planet uses it, and the gargantuan mountain of information you can find there is growing in depth and breadth daily. Plus, the search engine is only getting faster. But day by day, Google and the Internet-at-large are convincing us that knowledge ought to be at our fingertips; whether it is a map, stock-price, article, quote, or video clip-we start to feel that typing it into a search-bar is all that it should take.
As author Carr puts it, “the Net seems to be . . . chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.” Carr is right. No wonder we are so crazy about it — it gives us the instant gratification we crave.
While the Scriptures teach us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, Google bombards us with the opposite message: You ought to have what you want when you want it. And when you break it down, instant gratification is really another manifestation of pride.
So not only is Google and search engines in general changing the way we think, they are changing our hearts. Don’t believe me? Pay attention to yourself the next time you type in a search bar. See if these feelings of impatience and a need-to-know don’t crop up a bit.
After all doesn’t Google give us what we really want? An end to our search? Our questions answered? Instant knowledge and all the empowerment that goes along with it? For Christians, these desires are worth thinking over-because every deep human desire is, in some way, connected to our conscious or even unconscious desire for God.
Think about what the Bible promises. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). “Ask and it will be given to you . . . seek and you shall find” (Matthew 7:7). “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Or what about when Christ promises that a day is coming when He will speak plainly to us about the Father of glory (John 16:25)?
Can you imagine the ecstasy of such a day? When communication with God is unhindered?
No wonder we see a Messiah in Google. We were built to want understanding, knowledge, wisdom, communication-and we can get it! But only by faith in Christ.
Make no mistake, Christ promises us that through Him a day will come when desires cease and all that we want to know and feel will be known and felt in His immediate and enduring presence. In Him, our search is found.
So as drinking water teaches us to yearn for spiritual drink and as bread reminds us that we must eat spiritual food, let the Internet and all its potential for good or ill remind us that what we are really searching for is Christ. Only He will give us true understanding, enduring satisfaction, and unhindered communication for life forevermore.
We will find it is time to call off the search-because all we have ever needed or wanted is in Him.