Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "A Beautiful Life"1 (Lyrics)
Excessive information has become a plague. That occurred to me one day after receiving a ticket for unintentionally violating a "No Parking 2 to 6 A.M." bylaw. If there was a sign somewhere, I missed it amidst the plethora of signs on the unfamiliar streets. Of course, that excuse didn't absolve the $40 fine.
Yet that $40 was well-spent, because it drew my attention to the terrible problem of information overload. Data pollution, as it's called, over-stimulates the mind, hinders the ability to think, and damages brain function. It makes us inattentive and unfocused. We end up giving token nods to information, but miss the critical bits. We'll click "I agree" to the 25-page "Terms of Service" without reading them. Apparently, Internet users are habitually doing that, even though these are legally binding agreements. Clearly, information overload poses a far greater risk than a mere parking ticket.
For the gospel message, excessive information and unclear language is especially deadly. No wonder the apostle Paul wrote:
Colossians 4:4 – Pray that I may proclaim [the mystery of Christ] clearly, as I should. (NIV)
That's how we can pray for one another — considering how religious communities are prone to obscure the gospel message through the use of excess wordiness and unclear verbiage. This habitual reliance on excessive information fosters the habit of inattentiveness, and then, the critical bits of Christianity get lost to the people. They compliantly click on "I agree" to the "Terms of Service" with little understanding of a commitment to God or His covenant agreement with them. This shallow pledge of faith will not endure trials or sustain the church into the future.
You see why I'm concerned about information overload: The critical bits of Christianity get lost. We end up focusing on less critical matters — perhaps defending them or even opposing them fervently. We'll drive our minds with needless burdens and anxious thoughts. We'll wear each other out making mountains out of molehills. And so, our peace is robbed through a relentless buzz of useless data affronting our minds.
The solution is to build habits of being alone, alone in our minds, alone and quiet with God, that we may clearly hear the critical bits for us and filter out the rest. Listen to Him calling:
Psalm 46:10a – Be still, and know that I am God. (NIV)
Matthew 11:28a,29b – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with information overload] … and you will find rest for your souls [your mind, your life, everything about you]. (NIV with my additions)
Prayer: Lord, train us to calm our frenzied minds, that we may clearly hear and grasp "the mystery of Christ" — that we may understand, experience, and proclaim it clearly as we should. Amen.