Luddite that I am, I tend to be suspicious of “advancements” in technology. Deep down inside, I know that I will probably adopt whatever progressive enhancement the technonerds have brought my way, and may come to depend upon it, and even like it, but when first presented with something new or different on some device I employ or program through which I work, I have to ask, is this change really for the better?

If you are one of the over one billion people who use a gmail account each month, you may have noticed a couple of differences in the program that are designed to “improve” your email experience.

In order to speed along your writing, if you begin to type a common phrase (“Looking forward to seeing you” or “Haven’t seen you in a while” are examples) Google’s “Auto-complete” feature will offer to finish the phrase. All you have to do is hit “Tab” and move on. I admit that this feature saves a few milliseconds, but it’s a little creepy to think that your laptop has become more like your significant other, finishing your sentences before you do.

The other feature is called “Smart-reply” and, on the basis of an email someone has sent you, it suggests three possible responses. I received an email from someone today that gave me some basic information. Google suggested I might want to respond, “Received, thank you,” “Got it, thanks!” or “Thank you.” Let’s leave aside the fact that a program is reading your email before you do. One mouse click and you’ve “answered” an email.

No question that’s faster than, “ I really appreciate the work you put into compiling this material for me. I know it took time that you could have spent doing something else, but you’ve made my finished product much better. Thank you. By the way, how are the kids?”

To get back to my original question, are changes like this improvements or are they just another step down the road to the elimination of human interaction altogether? If you are foolish enough to continue to answer your land telephone line, you’ve probably had the experience of someone trying to make you think there is a real person calling, when, in fact, it’s just a recording. They’re getting really close to fooling me.

Maybe there is a bright side to all of this. If technology speeds along the work that we must do, then it could free up time for genuine relationships. However, if it simply serves as a faster substitute for thoughtful conversation and considerate replies, then maybe we can do without it.

As a Christian, for me everything goes back to Jesus. It is irrelevant that he lived in a much less technologically sophisticated era. I believe he set the example for how we are to relate to people, no matter how much technology is available. Perhaps, if he were at some distance from people to whom he wanted to relate, he might have written them a thoughtful letter. Isn’t that what Paul did?

But I can’t imagine Jesus sending a hyperlink to the rich young ruler when he asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Would it have been as effective if Jesus had engaged in the dialogue with the woman at the well through a series of text messages? I doubt it. Somehow “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth,” would sound better coming from the mouth of the Truth, than read on a smartphone.

Be assured, I’m going to take advantage of every technological improvement that makes my work easier. But I hope all of us will be critical enough of progress to ask if it stands in the way of relating to people. For Jesus all that mattered was people and whether or not we loved them. Nothing human beings have invented has changed that.

By the way, if you don’t like the “new and improved gmail,” go to “Settings” and click on “Go back to classic.” Whether you do that or not, let’s all go back to the “classic” way of relating, with genuine concern and, when possible, in person. You know, like Jesus.