dr-robert-and-maureen-092016(October 12, 2016) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share some observations…

Every now and then someone’s blog runs photos of groups of people (supposedly in company with each other!) looking intently at their mobile phone screens but not at each other! Young people – particularly in restaurants, kids – even in church, lovers on a date, even seniors are depicted.

The one thing they have in common is that they’re ignoring one another and are oblivious to their surroundings. And these pics are usually accompanied with a quotation credited to Albert Einstein: ‘I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.’

Although there is no substantive evidence that Einstein made this statement (For example, there’s no mention of it in the comprehensive collection highlighted in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (Princeton University Press 1), nevertheless such depictions are a reality today!

Personally we see this reality almost every day! Eg… Last Sunday in a restaurant we observed a young couple on their mobiles instead of talking together and enjoying their lunch. Now that restaurant serves great food but it was no wonder most of this couple’s food was only half eaten when they left – still on their mobiles!

Take another couple also there, a little older and one would have hoped, wiser. They had only just sat down when he suddenly got up to make a call and, ignoring her (a very pretty girl, by the way!), began to pace around the table yakking away. Some ten minutes later, obviously feeling alone she took out her own mobile and started using it!

We like the comic photo we saw recently of a girl in a restaurant who says to the guy dating her for lunch who is engrossed on his mobile, ‘Why don’t I stick your phone on my forehead – at least I can pretend you’re looking at me!’

Then there was the beautiful sunny day we parked on the local esplanade and were enjoying the magnificent view across the seaside. We observed that so many people of various ages going by were so engrossed with their mobiles! We particularly noticed six young men all sauntering along in a straight row, ignoring each other, eyes fixed intently on their phones. It was the first sunny day after a long period of cold and heavy rain and so pleasant, so welcomed. The beauty of God’s handiwork was all around them, and even if they weren’t Christians and didn’t know to give him thanks, we thought that at least they could be looking around and taking it in. Talk about being blind… no wonder such ‘blind’ people bump into others – and not a friendly meeting! Or into trees or posts!

We noticed too a kid cycling by struggling to keep control of his bike with one hand while operating his mobile with the other! And what about the family out for a stroll where not only were the parents on their mobiles but so were their three little kids.


And what about those crazy hoons… driving fast, holding the steering wheel with one hand, their mobile in the other and yakking away!

No wonder America calls mobiles ‘cells‘!

It’s definitely a different age we live in today! And even if Einstein didn’t say or write the quote above, it’s for real!


Albert Einstein is  regarded as saying this: ‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.’

Persistence has a number of meanings. Three are: determined, lasting and purposeful. We repeatedly hear people remark that the art of conservation is dead, that they’re tired of receiving badly written (and often overlong) SMS messages instead of meaningful phone calls, that to have a real conversation with someone, particularly old friends, face-to-face, is so meaningful, so refreshing.

Cuppa time takes on new meaning, whether it’s a ‘Call round for a cuppa’ or a meeting in a café, or the traditional church after service fellowship break.

Something special, something precious is missing today. Many friendships no longer have a depth to them, are no longer as meaningful as they were. We also hear that even some pastors promise to catch up with a faithful church member after the service or during the week on an important matter yet never do. Or when they do finally see them it’s so obvious to that person that they are not being concentrated on, not being listened to. Or they’re fobbed off to someone else with no authority.

Sad times indeed. We were taught to set time aside for any get-togethers, to listen attentively to what’s being shared, and look that person in the eye, not allow your eyes to be wandering all over the place. And, if the person is offering to do something, or has a good idea, one that’s not great, pastors especially should not put them down but suggest that all involved should pray about it, consider it, and talk further. Or if they have to knock it back, to explain gently and meaningfully why the idea isn’t a good one. In other words, do not slam the person and their suggestion. This too is an aspect of purposeful conversation and meaningful friendship.

Everyone ought to ensure that friendships are solid! That we determine they will be so, that they are long-lasting over many years and that they are purposeful – that they are meaningful, a blessing to friends and even strangers. Such an attitude is God-like, strong and effective. Then we can have a relaxing time together, catch up, share, enjoy the friendship (maybe make a new one) and be a blessing. It also ensures that blessings come our way too… that old saying ‘What goes around, comes around.’ Not that we want to do something just to get a reward!

Most importantly many times such genuine friendship helps grow other Christians in their faith and in life experiences – and the church grows!

Had an email from a good friend this morning which spoke of this very thing: ‘Robert, and Maureen, my friends… I thank you so much. I value our close Christian love for each other, which goes back such a long way.’ And this from a guy who immediately drove many kilometres out of his way last year to face-to-face encourage me (Robert) on hearing I was to have a heart operation!

Different translations of Acts 2:42 bring out the welcomed thought of determined togetherness, unity, joy. The ISV reads, ‘United in purpose, they went to the temple every day, ate at each other’s homes, and shared their food with glad and humble hearts.’ Message Bible says: ‘They followed a daily discipline of worship in the temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful.’

Now we don’t mean to read something into this scripture that’s not there! That there’s a heavy church rule that we must share actual meals together! No. Those early Christians were spiritually hungry – to worship God together, feast on the teachings of Christ and the apostles, and also to meet regularly and purposely in homes to share the Lord’s Supper together.

Here’s the point … there was an exuberant sense of joy at being together. Surely we can have this attitude when we link together with someone. That we be determined to joyfully, readily keep the appointment and make it meaningful, purposeful. We can also take advantage of chance meetings and display friendship, maybe even make a new friend.

Heard today of someone who visited a certain ‘big church’ last Sunday night and no one came near him as he sat all alone in an empty row. Afterwards during what was supposed to ‘fellowship time, good opportunity to meet someone’ he was again left alone as he partook of the supper! This is not the first time we’ve heard such stories from lonely needy people visiting so-called friendly ‘we’re here for you churches’! As we’ve said above – sad times!

Muhammad Ali said: ‘If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.’

True! Real friends accept us, blemishes, warts and all. Jesus does! They’re there for us… they go out of their way to make new friendships, lasting ones, to help us. A wise leader once wrote, ‘A sweet friendship refreshes the soul’ (Prov. 27:9).

Check the meaning of friendship in a dictionary and among the various explanations, you’ll also find ‘a warm and kind feeling or attitude.’ Meaningful Christianity is all about attitude.



Check the meaning of friendship in a dictionary and among the various explanations, you’ll also find ‘a warm and kind feeling or attitude.’ Meaningful Christianity is all about attitude.

Here’s a final thought (Maybe we’re coining it!): ‘Want to know what real friendship is all about? Mess things up good and proper, then see who’s really still there for you!’

Let’s display the right attitude to all!


(Scripture emphases ours)


  1. Another great post (Not written from my phone!)
    I turned my phone off the other afternoon for a few hours. At first: Weird, then relaxing. Might do it more often as a ‘detox!’

    Good topic to be talking about, thanks for sharing, guys. 🙂

  2. PS. I love the words of my grandmother (which she no doubt heard from perhaps her mum) on friendship. So simple, and yet convicts me all the time! ‘To have a friend, you have to be a friend.’ True!

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