When Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message” in 1964, personal computers were unknown, mobile phones were science fiction, and the Internet didn’t exist. Today we understand what great foresight he had in predicting how our thinking is influenced in this digital age. In Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, he writes, “[The media] supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.”
I like J. B. Phillips’s paraphrase of Paul’s message to the Christians in Rome: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Rom. 12:2). How relevant this is today as we find our thoughts and the way our minds process material affected by the world around us.
We cannot stem the tide of information that bombards us, but we can ask God each day to help us focus on Him and to shape our thinking through His presence in our lives.
Father in heaven, still and focus my mind, quiet my heart, and fill me with Your thoughts throughout this day.
Let God’s Spirit, not the world, shape your mind.
Tradition has it that the apostle Peter brought the gospel to Rome. This is unlikely as there is no historical evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. The gospel was probably brought into Rome in two ways. First, among the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost, there were “visitors from Rome” (Acts 2:10). These converted returnees could have brought the gospel back home. Second, because it was the capital city of the Roman Empire, thousands of other believers (visitors, tourists, soldiers, traders, businessmen, and migrants) would have come into Rome. These visiting believers would have brought the gospel with them.