Jul 302017 7 Responses

3 Things Modern Society Is Doing to Us

It’s not going to get slower. While it feels as though life has reached a pace that cannot get faster, there is no reason to believe that progress and change is going to slow down. Technology will accelerate. Expectations will increase. Life will continue to move at an ever-increasing rate.

That’s a scary proposition considering the speed at which modern life is currently experienced. It feels unsustainable at its present pace. Thinking of it moving faster is impossible, but it is a reality.

Last month, I surveyed some of my friends who are professional counselors. I’ve been seeing some patterns in the people who come to see me and I wondered if they were seeing the same thing. I simply asked, “What are some common themes in the struggles of your current clients?” Obviously, a counselor regularly sees people with marital problems, anxiety, and grief. But sure enough, they responded with some of the issues I was seeing. Specifically, I repeatedly heard, “People are worn out and they feel alone.” These two concepts, when matched with a third, were issues which concerned me.

3 Negative Characteristics of Modern Society

When I consider the emotions of many of the people I pastor and interact with through my website, I see three repeated characteristics.

Many of us are:

1. Distracted. With so much noise, it’s hard to stay focused on the things that truly matter. Everything is begging for our attention. Our ears and eyes are overwhelmed with inputs. It’s difficult to focus and nearly impossible to stay focused. Our day might be most defined as the interruption age. We are continually interrupted with sources demanding our focus. Complicating matters is that while it’s difficult to focus on so many good things asking for our attention, those with ill motives are regularly creating content intended to deceive and distract us from the real issues.

2. Isolated. Never has the average person had so many connections with so few real relationships. While social media adds many positives to our lives, one threat it brings is the appearance of connection without the real thing. We are surrounded by people while feeling all alone. Our isolation is sourced in many areas, but the false perception that our problems are unique may be the most sequestering idea of them all.

3. Exhausted. The prevailing thought of old was that technology would simplify our lives, even shortening the modern work week. The opposite has happened. Instead of easing our work burdens, technology has increased the demands upon us. Our work days never end even while our expectations of involvement with our families and communities also increase. The result is that we are always working while experiencing great guilt that we aren’t more productive at work or home.

These three characteristics are wreaking havoc in our lives. And one issue is rippling over to another. Tired people are tempted to isolate themselves and act in ways in which others isolate them. But isolation is also exhausting. Distraction keeps us from the rejuvenating sources of mission and purpose. Few things connect us with others like a common mission.

Intermingled, distraction, isolation, and exhaustion are the defining characteristics of our times. But what if they weren’t?

The Invitation

Whenever I read the words of Jesus, he often spoke to people who were distracted, isolated, and/or exhausted. What strikes me is that he regularly invited these people to a different way of life. He offered them a way out of the distraction and into a focused engagement. He sympathized with their weariness, but called them into a rest-filled state. He had compassion on their loneliness and welcomed them into meaningful relationships.

The way of Jesus invites us out of our modern plight. We don’t have to be continually distracted. We can experience a rest which will rejuvenate us. We can connect with others in such a meaningful way that we know we are not alone.

But it won’t happen easily. It’s a process. The way of this world is so ingrained into us, it takes time to learn a different way. The way of Jesus so contradicts everything we know, it takes a great deal of faith to trust him. Yet it’s a journey that is worth the effort.

Imagine modeling for our kids a way that is distinct from those around us.  Consider the gift it would be to others if we lived a different way. Fathom how much better the way of Jesus is to the way of this world.

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