By Matt Sapp
In the 1990s politicians told us about the “information super highway.” Most of us couldn’t understand what they were talking about then, but today we are smack dab in the middle of the Information Age.
Everything the world has ever known or experienced or discovered is at our fingertips—in our pockets, even. The thoughts and ideas and opinions and experiences of billions of people are catalogued and archived every day on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumbler.
So for a generation now, conventional wisdom has supported the idea that more information is the key to better living. Today, data analysis, feedback systems and performance metrics improve products and services to make our lives better and easier—and our businesses more profitable.
Access to information also makes us more productive. The information age makes same day delivery from Amazon possible—wonder of wonders! It holds the promise of improving the standard of living and quality of life for people all over the world.
Increasingly, though, we’re discovering the limits of information. And in places where the Information Age has fully blossomed we find ourselves binging on information to distract us from thoughts, relationships, situations, and emotions we’d rather avoid.
Unlimited access to information has some wonderful benefits, but what if we need more? What if convenience and productivity do not translate into more us becoming fulfilled, grounded, and connected? What if it takes more than facts and information to build meaningful lives?
Researchers are discovering that our minds and senses are so overly stimulated that our attention spans are shrinking to the vanishing point.
At the same time, depth is disappearing from our lives: Depth of relationship, depth of feeling, depth of purpose, just to name a few. The meaning and rootedness that used to ground us—the physical places and spaces of community that used to connect us–are disappearing.
How can lives full of access to knowledge and stimulation feel so…empty?
Cultural observers have been openly wondering whether the church can survive the upheavals of this new era. The shift away from physical places and space of community poses a huge challenge to churches, but we still need depth of relationship and feeling and purpose, of rootedness and connectedness. The church can provide that kind of depth!
At HERITAGE we’re working to organize ourselves around three big ideas and needs that will help weather the Information Age.
Instead of easy answers we desperately want to find HEALTHY WAYS to understand the world and be understood. We’re discovering that answers can’t organize themselves into a coherent worldview that provides order and meaning to life. In a world full of facts we hunger for understanding.
Instead of facts, we hunger for deeper TRUTH—a truth that’s Google proof. Maybe even a truth that’s HOLY. There’s a depth to real truth that we often miss when we’re conditioned to search for facts that can be found with a few key strokes. We’re so used to searching for facts that we no longer even know to ask for truth. Truth is deeper than facts. Truth has roots. It connects at a spiritual, elemental level.
Truth is searched for, hard-earned, embodied and owned in a way that facts aren’t. Google offers facts; but it doesn’t offer truth.
As we discover the limits of knowledge, we might just be starting to rediscover the benefits of a LIFE of faith–a life that makes us WHOLE. Knowledge might change how we think and may even change how we live; but we don’t just want to know how to live, we want to know why we live.
The bounded fields of knowledge can’t hold a candle to the unlimited landscape of faith. Faith leads us to ask questions and a search for truth that knowledge can’t fully address. It leads us to truth instead of facts.
We want understanding, not answers. We hunger for truth, not facts. It’s not knowledge that we yearn for; it’s life! We want a new way to live. We’ve heard the conventional wisdom. We’ve tried the easy fixes. We’ve experienced all the Information Age has to offer, and we want more.
We want lives that are holier, healthier and more complete than the lives we’re living right now. We want a chance to dream and exist and hope beyond the limits of the present reality. That’s what it means to be human. We were uniquely created to exist on more than information.
Jesus once made a claim about his identity that might be useful as we look to move beyond information. Jesus says, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.” The WAY to understanding, the TRUTH beyond facts, a LIFE that transcends mere knowledge.
Recent experience teaches us that more access to information fails to make us more holy, more healthy, or more whole. That’s precisely what Christ promises to do as we search for truth, understanding and faith.
In a world where nothing is permanent, where even facts seem to change as quickly as you can google them, Christ offers something solid to hold onto—something that keeps us from drowning in a sea of information.