Earlier last year, my wife and I struggled whether or not to give our oldest son an iPhone as he prepared to start middle school. We weren’t sure he was ready and we had barely done any of our homework on what rules to put in place for him. What made the decision slightly more difficult was that our second son, only a grade apart, would most likely want a phone as well. Part of me thought….”Why not? Give them both phones and make the rules at the same time rather than have to repeat them all over again the following year.”
So with somewhat baited breath, we got both boys phones, explained the rules, to include having them sign a “contract” of what to do and what not to do with their phones, ….. and we buckled in for the “what next” of unknowns.
Most of the rules were fairly expected.
-No using the phone past 7 pm on school nights.
-No prank calls
-No texting with people you haven’t met
-Always answer when a parent calls
-No excessive texting
There we a handful of other rules…but you get the general message.
If you were to ask me what rule was most important above all others….it centered around “respect”. And we struggled with this … and continue to struggle with this one. You see, this great gift of technology full of benefits is also loaded with many pitfalls just waiting to happen. Cell phones are a HUGE distraction to teenagers! Their whole world becomes narrowly focused when their eyes become fixated on the glow of a 5.4 inch by 2.6 inch piece of rectangular metal.
At one point, I found myself saying…”Boys, you can enjoy all the technology associated with your new device. But when it comes to respect, you must not lose respect for others, else you will lose your phone privileges.”
Truth be told, we’ve been trying to teach our sons about respect for others way before cell phones came into the mix. The cell phone just happens to create a physical object that helps “we”, the parents, clearly delineate between right and wrong…..some might even say, delineate between good and evil!
When God made Adam and Eve the stewards of the Garden of Eden, He gave them full dominion over the Garden. They became God’s surrogates, His representatives in the creation He had formed.
In Genesis, chapter 1 we read:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” GEN 1: 26-27
For years, even into my adulthood, I have questioned this concept of “creating man and woman in the image of God”. Recently, I’ve read one interpretation that makes a little more sense to me. The “image” is not so much the physical piece; what we see in the mirror. Rather, “image” refers to Adam and Eve as “image bearers” of God. And being made in the image of God means we are able (and expected) to do what God has called us to do. For Adam and Eve, it was the dominion over the Garden pieces. For us, today, it’s living out a Christian life.
I may have lost a few of you on that last part, so let me bring this plane around and get ready for the soft landing.
While God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed and more in the Garden, He still made one area off limits. Remember what that was? The fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know what eventually happens. Serpent persuades Eve that she could eat of the fruit. She takes one of the fruits from the tree, commonly explained as an “apple”, and gives it to Adam, who eats of the fruit.
Immediately their eyes were opened, and scripture says they realized they were naked.
Now there’s a few additional messages we could talk about but let’s focus on the tree and the apple.
The tree could have been a number of things. It could have been a place….it could have been an animal….or it could have simple have been something else tangible. The tree, however, represents God’s covenant between Himself and Adam & Eve. And the most important part of any covenant relationship is the defining of conditions that go with it. In this case, God asked them to trust and obey Him. Pretty simple when you pare it all down.
When we take away the tree….and eventually the apple as well, we can hopefully see the covenant that God had with the couple.
Do you have trees in your life today? Are their things that might be forbidden, that are preventing you from celebrating that covenant with our Heavenly Father? It could be a number of things….and don’t worry, I won’t ask anyone to list those out to me now.
In an oddly parallel sense, when I’m disappointed in my sons for lack of respect because they’re so engrossed with their devices, it really has nothing to do with what’s on the screen that has their minds so preoccupied. No, it’s the broken covenant we have that hurts the most.
So….I get it when God gets disappointed with us too. And I mean no form of disrespect to God in my simplified analogy of teenagers and cell phones.
For me, and maybe for you, my prayer this week is that I look at the covenants that I am breaking and look for ways to shore up those relationships with our Heavenly Father. Won’t you join me in that effort?
Lastly, did anyone else’s mind drift off to notice the icon for the iPhone is an “apple”? Coincidence maybe?
How about the next time you close down your MacBook or turn on your iPhone….take a look at the icon and let it be a reminder of that “first” apple in the Garden.