The first thing people are going to think about when they hear “iPod God” is idolatry. This is something that has been pushed around the internet for a while now. You may have even seen some of the technology videos that are telling us to put the iPod down, or the laptop, or to get off Facebook and television. (Example: Can We Auto-Correct Humanity). In this video he points to the fact that technology can cause us to miss out on real relationships around us. I’m sure that we can all think of examples of times where we were hanging out with someone and all they did was look at their phone the entire time, or people who never seem to take the iPod out of their ears. Some of us have probably had some pretty poor dates where this happened. Personally, I like to have my phone on me to avoid awkward social interactions. Introverts at a party full of people fully appreciate the ability to stare at their phone for as long as they need to. This is considered (for the most part) socially acceptable. And why not? I do not necessarily see anything wrong with this. Does this mean that technology cannot control us? Or that iPods and smartphones and other pieces of technology do not become an obsession? I think they certainly can and do. After all it wouldn’t be such a hot topic otherwise. However, this is not what I am referring to when I talk about the iPod God. While the obsession with technology, the internet, and media is something that we should look out for, there is more to the idea of the iPod God than just making technology our god.
Ok, so what is iPod God?
The iPod God is actually something I thought about a long time ago. As a matter of fact, I thought about it before the entire smart phone craze. Before calling it iPod God my original topic for this idea was “God, the MP3 player.” This means exactly what it sounds like. It is viewing God as an mp3 player, or iPod. For the purpose of what I am thinking about, a music playing device actually works better than a phone I believe. Can God be seen as an mp3 player, and if so, should God be viewed as one? Based on the way that I see people already using God and treating Him like an iPod, I would have to say that the obvious answer is no. God should not be viewed as an iPod. Like many other things, this puts God into a box. Perhaps even worse, treating God like an iPod removes any genuine relationship that we might have with Him. Instead of seeing him as someone who we can have a relationship with, we begin to treat God like an object of worship. He is not an object; he is the Supreme Being and Creator. We worship Him not because he is an object on a pedestal, but we worship Him because he comes into our lives and establishes a meaningful relationship with us.
IPod God Is There Whenever We Need Him
Some people with deeper insight will notice the problem with iPod God already. God is not someone who is going to sit around and wait for us to come to Him on our own time. Unlike an iPod, we cannot pull God out of our pocket and switch to our favorite song or prayer when needed. God is not just a security blanket that we call on in our time of need. Indeed, iPods are a great piece of technology. They wait for us to need them, and when we do they provide instant satisfaction for our music listening needs. I feel like there are lots of people (myself included) who fall into the problem of treating God the same way. We do not think about Him or interact with Him (outside of a Sunday morning at best) until we really need Him. We go through life on our own and when we run into something that we are worried about or do not think we are personally capable of handling, we call on iPod God and expect Him to instantly fulfill our needs. We breathe a quick prayer and tuck him back into our pocket until we need him next time. Then, when our prayers and needs are not instantly met, we wonder what is wrong. Is our relationship with God turned off? Did it run out of batteries? Or did we forget to plug-in (or unplug) the headphones? Maybe.
Another problem with iPod God is that an iPod does not actually have a mind of its own. It never calls upon us for anything. It does not want or need us to do anything (except charge it occasionally). It does nothing but wait for us to interact with it. God is not like this. If anything, he is more like a cell phone. If we have a good relationship with Him, we should be hearing from the Spirit constantly in our lives. He will help guide us in our decisions and protect us from wrong decisions. Some people might call this a conscience, but really as a Christian we should understand this as the Spirit of God directing our lives and putting His input into it. Treating God like an iPod makes the relationship one-sided. It is a selfish relationship. We are telling God that we only need him to help us when we want Him to and at all other times he should wait in the background until we call on Him. God is not a tag team partner that we can tap in when we are in trouble. If anything, we are the partner that God sometimes allows to bask in the glory of His plan for us.
We Cannot “Skip” the Bad Things in Life
At times when we are listening to music on an iPod we come across a song that we are not a fan of. Sometimes we skip it. At other times we search for a specific song. God does not work this way. Even the bad things that we come across are a part of his plan. We may not understand this, but the difficult times are made to grow us or show God’s glory through our struggle. If we could simply skip them we would miss out on these learning experiences.
To some extent it would be nice if God worked like an iPod. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that people make. The biggest area where this happens is in prayer. We pray to God like we select songs on an iPod. Little snippets here and there. Sometimes we need to stop and give God the time of day that he deserves. This means spending longer than 30 seconds in prayer. It means putting down the technology and building our relationship with the God of the universe. While God does live inside of us and goes everywhere with us like our iPod and our smart phone, he is so much more than that and He should be treated as such.
Have you ever treated God like an iPod or a quick fix to the problems in life? Ask God to help you focus more on Him in meaningful ways. He can show you how to create a relationship based on love, not on objectification.