An iPhone App for Charting Unbelief?

Gosh, wouldn’t it be just dandy if we could buy a “Christianized” version of the smart phone, a device that shipped preloaded with an application (or “app”) that was able to tap into the inner chambers of the heart, causing our phones to light up or chirp loudly every time we begin the slow slide from faithfulness to rebellion? Or better yet, a southward turn in our overall attitude would immediately cause our phone to slap us hard across the face and yell, “Snap out of it!”

While it seems unlikely that any cellphone manufacturer could acquire the technical means of somehow monitoring the hidden seat of our emotions – let alone have any desire to ship this product, given the cultural climate today – the fact is that I have stumbled upon something that, for me at least, has served largely the same purpose.

It all began innocently enough with an acknowledged – and mutually agreed upon! – need to do a better job of regulating what I was eating. While the idea of losing a few pounds was enticing, the larger truth hanging out in the background is that I had identified an area of my life that I could readily admit was seeking to assert itself as being “outside the Lordship of Christ,” an easy-to-spot, flesh-gratifying usurper that sought nothing less than a “protected corner” in my heart where it could be left alone, undisturbed by those pesky Christian ideals of temperance, self-control, gratitude and stewardship. That “area of my life” usually included Hot Tamales, cookies by the handful, or a giant punchbowl filled with Bunny Tracks ice cream.

Lose It!

Of course, I always knew that I had a weak spot for sweets, but downloading the “Lose It!” app proved to be a real eye-opening experience for me in that it has served to draw the fleshly battle into a whole new realm. What at first seemed like a helpful means for curbing unnecessary indulgences has instead morphed into a de facto barometer for how faithful I am being in seemingly-unrelated areas of my walk with Christ.

If you do not have a smart phone and/or have no idea what the “Lose It!” app is all about, it basically provides a very convenient means for tracking what you eat and drink throughout the course of a day. The app is linked to a database of commonly-available foods as well as restaurants, but if an initial search of the database fails, you can always just scan in the barcode of whatever you happen to be consuming. In addition, the app allows you to compare your daily track record to preset goals – goals that you yourself have entered into the app – and chart your progress (or lack thereof) for long periods of time.

And yet…here’s what I found to be so very interesting, in a vaguely horrifying, humbling sort of way.

After just a few months of using this gizmo, I was able to make a positive correlation between the overall health of my faith and my ability to move forward in God’s strength…and how diligent I was in maintaining the required logs on my phone.

Whenever I was having “a bad day” – however loosely defined – I found that the very first thing to get chucked out the window was my diligence in documenting what I was eating that day – again, an exercise that I had previously agreed to do for my own good – keeping the logs current and the results useful. In fact, I would go even a bit further and confess that the “Lose It!” app has become an Early Warning System of sorts for when I am about to slide into some other “minor” form of rebellion, typically a preliminary move toward isolation of one kind or another, lack of patience with others, etc.

Though “Lose It!” has yet to actually slap me in the face, I’ve seen that look in my wife’s eye when she realizes I’m not complying to our agreement in using said app, and I suspect she’s considering stepping in and administering similar consequences. I wouldn’t blame her one bit.

While I fully realize that relaying this information may seem trivial or perhaps even laughable, I share it in the interest of conveying how any decision to be faithful in a very particular area of one’s life can reveal all other sorts of “interesting” things going on in our inner beings, aspects of our personalities that we might otherwise be tempted to “stuff” or deny altogether. At an operational level, the mere thought of tracking food consumption might seem like something only a weak person might need to do. I could probably make a case for the reverse, though, and press the belief that acknowledging our weaknesses, foibles and failings actually makes us stronger in the long run.

“Faithfulness,” for you, will undoubtedly look much different than it does for me. You may not have the “good fortune” to stumble upon a smart phone app that puts numbers and timelines to your own particular brand of foolishness, but I am grateful – in an odd sort of way – to have found something that so quickly and clearly reveals my weakness. Absent a “road flare” of this kind, this weakness might have stayed hidden in the darker recesses of my heart for a lot longer. My childish resistance to using the app for its intended purposes ebbs and flows, but when it does show up it invariably helps me locate “something else” that is going on in my heart, perhaps even something that I had not previously been aware of.

Your own “road flare” may be something altogether different. Instead of a smart phone app, perhaps it’s a close friend that you consistently allow to speak truth into your life. Perhaps it’s a combination of several telltale signs. Whatever it is, when you find something in your life that reliably points to a deceitful, sinful pattern in your life – however “small” – don’t fight it. Rather, I would encourage you to accept and embrace it as tangible evidence of God’s mercy in your life. While humbling, it’s nevertheless good to have an early warning device for sin, faithlessness and stupidity.

Let’s just hope that no one ever releases a smart phone app that publicly charts the duration and authenticity of our times of prayer and communion with Jesus. (Or at least let me first stop reeling from what the “Lose It!” app has already demonstrated.)

Matthew 17:17a
And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”

1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

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