Study Guide: Unplugged

Sunday October 22, 2017 | David Morrow

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

We continue our Course Corrections series by looking at small changes we can make in our life now, that have the potential for large scale shifts if followed out in the future. In this message David Morrow shares how the areas of leisure, entertainment, and social media can affect our Kingdom journey and what changes we might make now to ensure we don’t become slaves to their influence.

Extended Summary:

Course corrections are simple in the ways the Kingdom of God is simple. Small acts and changes have the potential for enormous long term growth and change. We see this in many of Jesus’ parables like the mustard seed or the yeast. In this message we explore the areas of leisure, entertainment, and social media, and how we should prepare for and engage these areas to make sure we don’t get sucked in to a life of indifference and distraction.

Many times these topics fit in to the idea of unplugging, but in reality unplugging as a concept is a myth. No matter how or what you’re unplugging from, you’re always plugging in to something else. In some cases like alcohol, over eating, or pornography unplugging can be objectively negative, but in other areas like watching a show or social media it can be more gray and neutral. Whatever the form of “unplugging,” we need to understand that these activities, even the neutral ones, are competing to shape the way we see and interact with the world. We can’t allow unplugging to be spiritually neutral.

As we look at social media, one of the dangers can be the tendency to always be performing. Just like in acting on stage, the actor notices what gets applause and adjusts behavior accordingly to keep that positive feedback loop going. We keep everyone at arm’s length only revealing the sanitized version of ourselves. We need to keep in mind one of Jesus’ main criticism of the religious leaders was their inauthentic way or keeping the law. He said in Mt 23:5 that “everything they do is done for people to see.” It was all for show. We can get all the notoriety and fame the world has to offer, but deep down we can’t receive it because we know all those people who like and retweet us don’t really know me for who I actually am. As Brennan Manning said, “the temptation of this age is to look good without actually being good.” We live in a world that is neurologically re-wiring us to talk and think more about ourselves, and again it’s a positive feedback loop as these pleasure center chemicals get released in our brains from our social media activity.

The psalmist writes in Psalms 46:10 to “be still and know that I am God.” This being still is a letting go, forsaking, or abandoning that can actually feel like dying if we’re getting our life, significance, and worth from these other sources outside of God. You can’t plug in to the stillness of God without unplugging from these other areas. Eugene Peterson said, “waiting in prayer is the disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Being still can feel like doing nothing in a world that desperately needs something done, but if I show up and try to do everything without God, not only will I not get everything done, I will be ravaged on the other side. The course correction is to step out of traffic a little bit, step out of all the noise. This practice is the spiritual discipline of solitude and silence. In this we can remember who we are and not just what we do. We get to take out the scaffolding and do away with the performance.

David gave 3 practical steps to grow in our capacity for solitude and stillness:

  1. Immersive solitude – this is retreat time, usually thought of as a minimum of 8 hrs to several days when we’re available only to God. This is an opportunity to listen to the rumblings in our soul.
  2. Intentional solitude – this is time we specifically take out of the traffic during our day to say to God, I believe you’re present here, and ask what He wants to say to us.
  3. Integrated solitude – this discipline is also known as practicing the presence of God all throughout the day. It’s the idea that God is always here and when I remember I’m waking up to the deepest reality there is. Using the prayer of examine at the end of the day can help remind us to be paying attention to His presence during the day.

There are rhythms we need in life and these practices can help us stay centered so that we know our calling and don’t have to stress and worry about all the rest.

Reflection Questions: