What do Amazon and Google and Facebook have in common? Want the simple answer? It’s You.
When you want to look up a question, you turn to Google. When you want to share an important event with your community of friends, you use Facebook. When you want to shop online, you use Amazon.
Each company has its hooks into us because they have studied human behavior thoroughly. They know a lot about how to create habitual use. Using complex algorithms, they repeatedly offer us “Triggers” to invite “Action” and “Investment.” They continue to entice us with ease of use and “Variable Rewards” that make us feel successful or gratified (at least for a few minutes) when we’ve used their products, and a bit anxious or unfulfilled when we don’t.
If you consume these products (as I do) and really want a new start to a new year, I suggest that you create Triggers, and Actions, and Investment in something besides them. For instance, God.
As a Christian priest and pastor, I’m invested in the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? It’s the rule of God announced, established, and exhibited through Jesus. It was and is available by faith and relationship to God through Jesus.
I have my own Triggers and Actions and Investment in the Kingdom of God. My “Trigger” is my alarm clock on my phone. When I wake up my first thought is my time with God. I begin my Action with coffee and the question, “Where and how will I spend my time with my Lord?” Often my Action is to have a leisurely morning with Bible reading and prayer. Other mornings, my sit-down time is briefer, but then I also listen to Morning Prayer (prayers, Bible readings, canticles) through my headphones as I exercise at the gym. In each case, I try to be real with God about my issues with Him, my feelings about myself and others. I try to be aware that through faith I am face to face with Jesus Christ. I think of His greatness. I pray for others.
The Trigger (alarm clock) and Actions (coffee and early morning regimen) then lead to my Investment. This is the offering of my day and my life to Him, to be used as He wishes. Sometimes I feel led by the Holy Spirit. Other times I feel nothing at all. But my job is to care about the things that God cares about, and that almost always involves people.
God has a great Variable Rewards program. When I meet another person who really loves the Lord, I feel happy. When a person is encouraged or helped, or comes to know God better through me, I am delighted. When I am able to spend focused time in prayer and feel heard, that’s a reward, too. When I mess up (as I often do) and consider that I have been purchased (redeemed) by Jesus’s offering of His life on the Cross, I’m amazed.
Some people think Amazon, Facebook, and Google are taking over the world. They may get a lot of it, but they will never get all of it. There is another “Three-in-One” who knows us better than they do, whose desire is not our money, but the reclamation of the beauty and purpose of our lives. Living a life with God is not as easy as buying from Amazon, though to me it’s easier than using Facebook.
G.K. Chesterton said, “It’s not so much that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, as it’s been found difficult and not tried.” Where will you put your effort in 2020?