The Anti-Gospel

Anti-SocialI have stumbled across a pair of wonderful apps.

They’re wonderful because, well, you see…I have a problem.

I love myself too much.

Yes, you read that right.

I am an idolater.

I have an entire set of apps (mobile) and bookmarks (desktop) devoted to the veneration of myself.

You’ve probably got the same ones.

If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself checking Facebook for likes and shares, Twitter for favorites and retweets, LinkedIn for endorsements, Instagram for likes and followers, and WordPress for blog views.

All blessed day long.

These little pieces of web coding help me maintain this illusion I’ve created of my own greatness. Or at least feed it by giving me content I find interesting.

(Which is why I get so irritated by the Facebook deluge of inspirational quotes, cupcake recipes, Wal-mart coupons, right-wing rants, passive-aggressive leftist swipes by Christian friends trying too hard not to be right-wing, and cats. Oh, the cats…)

But I’ve found an escape. Actually two.

I found the first one through Michael Hyatt. He has built an industry helping people build the biggest shiny idols possible. If you want to learn how, read his book Platform.

OK, that’s not fair. He regularly offers many helpful leadership insights. Idolatry is not his goal, but his tools can easily be misused in this way. Caveat emptor.

Still, I found this in his book and on his blog.

It’s called Anti-Social. And it’s great.

Here’s how it works. For $15, you can download an app that blocks you from the most popular social networking sites. It also lets you specify any additional sites you want to block, as well as giving you the option of blocking your messaging apps and any incoming email. You simply open it and tell it how long you want to be anti-social.

For the duration, you cannot access those sites, and you get no notifications. The only way out is to reboot your computer.

See? It’s great!

Idolatry defeated in one fell swoop!

Except it doesn’t work.

Oh, the app works. And it’s helpful when I’m tempted to waste time on my self-image. It works well.

But it doesn’t touch idolatry.

It doesn’t remove the desire to check those sites. It doesn’t block daydreams of increasing influence. It doesn’t keep me wondering what other people think of me when I say something stupid at a party. It doesn’t keep me from being irritated when my wife and kids fail to meet my royal demands.

Because there is no app that can do that. And people have tried to find one from the very beginning of time.

God’s people have tried this. They have come up with rules and laws and standards designed to help people live as God intended, and every one of them has failed. Oh, they may have been able to create cheerful, pristine environments (for a time), but they’ve never been able to drive out that insatiable desire to live for the almighty self.

That’s why God gave them 10 commandments (and hundreds of others). He did it to show them that no human effort could root out sin.

It’s also why he started that list with the most basic: “Have no other gods before the LORD.” Good luck with that.

And it’s why he ended the list with another catch-all: “Thou shalt not covet.” Yeah, if you made it through 1-9 (doubtful), you can’t get past this one.

What’s the point?

God showed the impotence of Works to show us our need for Grace.

He gave us the Law so we would listen to the Gospel.

Anti-Social uses a Law to change my computer, but I still need Christ to change my heart.

What about that second app?

Well, it’s called RescueTime, and it records how I spend time on my computer and mobile devices. Among other things, it shows me how 5 minutes on Facebook this morning looks a lot like 3 hours by the end of the week.

It doesn’t even bother to give me a Law. It just shows my Guilt.

How well does it work?

I haven’t checked it in weeks.

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