Dear Readers,


The smartphone is a popular gadget in modern Singapore. It is a common sight to see people staring at their phones as they travel on the bus or MRT. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte’s Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Singapore is ranked the highest for smartphone penetration, with nine out of ten respondents having access to a smartphone (Channel NewsAsia, 11 February 2015). The survey also revealed Singaporeans to be the most frequent users of instant messaging. In addition, gaming was noted to be the most popular smartphone activity in Southeast Asia.

The popularity of the smartphone lies in the fact that it is a mobile phone and a mini computer rolled into one portable device. Its connectivity and many applications present users with a myriad of options for activity on the go. It is certainly a most powerful device for productivity and entertainment. However, just like any tool, an abuse of the smartphone can also lead to many dangers for the user.

This writer is especially concerned with how smartphones are used by young Christians today. It is a worry to see many young ones glued to their phones, actively involved in gaming, messaging, watching videos, or other activities on social media platforms. Some of these activities are even conducted within the premises of the Lord’s house. There are times when users are so engrossed with their phones, they are not even aware of their surroundings. It is as if they have been translated into some alternate reality!

The Bible expressly warns us that we should do all things in moderation. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12) A Christian must not be enslaved or addicted to any activity or tool. This includes the use of smartphones. 1 Corinthians 10:23 further states, that while there are activities which are lawful, yet not all activities are edifying to the spiritual life of the Christian. If the activity causes you to walk far from God, then we should certainly cease from that activity. Moreover, some of the activities may not even be lawful in the eyes of God! If such activities distract us from God’s calling in church, workplace or school, then we should cease these activities immediately.

There is also a disturbing trend among youth to gather and engage in phone activity in the name of “phone fellowship”. But what exactly is fellowship? The common Greek word “koinonia” describes a common sharing, care and relationship that is made possible only in Christ and in His truth. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ(1 John 1:3). If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.(1 John 1:6-7) How many of such “phone fellowship” activities would promote Christ and His Word? Is the conversation wholesome? Do the games involve themes permissible by God’s Word, or do they include gross violence and magic? An honest assessment of many “phone fellowship” activities do not glorify the name of Christ. The term “fellowship” is but an excuse for sin. Brethren, let us not deceive ourselves.

Smartphones can also be a distraction during worship services. Today, Bibles are easily downloaded and stored in smartphones. Many are thus reading the Bible from their phones during worship services. As a result, some may be distracted by incoming emails, messages or notifications on their phones. Some phones may recommend websites to visit on the homepage, and the user may be tempted to click on the link and read. However, we are to worship God in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2) with undivided attention. Looking at emails, websites and messages is certainly not worshipping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If the smartphone becomes a distraction during the worship service, remove the phone, put it into the bag, and use a proper physical Bible.

Dear readers, how are you using your smartphone? It can be a bane or a boon. Do not be enslaved by your smartphone, but use it wisely for the glory of God. Amen.

Preacher Clement Chew