As a Christian I feel self-examination is a key element of my faith.
As I walk with Christ I continually find myself asking where God exist in the work that I do. I’ve been a Christian since my youth, so my answer to that question has often vacillated over the years.
I have experienced seasons where God has felt absent, while at other times he has felt like the center of my world. I’ve also, at times, found it hard to tell the difference between thriving in God’s presence and being caught up in my own ambition.
My inner Presbyterian tells me that God is an ever present spirit in all I do, and that He calls me to live a holy life (separate from the norm).
To do so is an amazing gift, and a birth right that carries with it tremendous reward. However, it’s also hard. Each day He provides me with ample opportunity to glorify Him by living out my faith in extraordinary ways.
It’s easy to see opportunity in hind-sight (as a simple action inspired in scripture, or in the glossy packaging of someone’s mission report), but it’s a lot harder to see it in the now.
I’ve always found the world to be quite grey outside the warmth of the sanctuary. This seems especially true living in an age so dominated by technology. Information is a tool that allows us great freedom to explore our world, but it lacks an explorer’s heart. It’s potential rest in the spirit of it’s user.
As a student of technology, and it’s human interactions, I’ve often suffered a loss of perspective when it came to finding holiness in the midst of my endeavors. The same has been true regarding my professional relationship with the subject.
I’ve often found myself at a loss trying to discover where God exist in our quest for finding value in systems. The technical agenda all too often is in sync with the world’s preoccupation with money; and money has a spirit of it’s own.
So as a child of God where does this leave me in relation to the world and this life? I’m thankfully not alone in asking this question.
Dr. Joel Adams wrote an essay on the subject entitled Why Christians Should Study Computer Science (and other technical disciplines).
In his writing Dr. Adams presents three reasons why Christians should pursue careers in technical fields:
- Out of Obedience
- As an Act of Worship
- For Eternal Ends
Dr. Adams asserts that computing is an element of creation, and therefore mankind is compelled to understand, and master the subject; citing an all too familiar passage from Genesis.
In Genesis Chapter 1 Verses 26-28 God instructs man to “…rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock…” and “…over all the earth”. To rule is to have command over a subject, or instruct something in the way it should go. It would seem this would have particular meaning here.
Adams’ second reason stresses man’s focus on managing technology as an act of worship. Contending, based on New Testament teachings from Colossians, that man should dedicate himself to his work fully; as though he were performing his work for God.
Colossians Chapter 3 Verse 23 reads “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men.”
Finally Adams’ argues there’s an eternal purpose for exploring a career in technology. In his thoughts there exist the possibility that what we do in the present will exist and become refined, and purified in the future; not be wasted in infinity. This gives credence to the concept of man being God’s stewards on this earth. To support this line of thought he refers to language that appears in Revelations Chapter 21, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
In some ways what Adams presents could be considered cliche statements in the Christian worldview, but that doesn’t make them any less valid points for use in contemplation.
Of particular interest to me was the concept of man’s work being refined on a new earth. It seems without having this line of thought for context it would be fairly easy to dismiss the other two as hyperbole or manufactured thought; a way to self-rationalize the energy one spends on what could feel like a purposeless endeavor. His third contention gives the inquiring mind an answer to the question “Why?”.
Which brings me back to the question at hand. Where is God’s hand in my scholarly, and professional work, with technology? Although the mysteries of God are many, I find it difficult to dismiss the common observation that God works through man to affect change on His earth. To this end it seems reasonable to assume that God’s purpose can be found in the evolutionary process of managing and developing information systems.
God’s character does not waiver over time, and it’s apparent that His creative energy is also a persistent force of change in our world.