It’s official: there really is an app for everything.
Heartpoints is an iPhone-only app designed to help a person track the good and bad things they do. Personally, I don’t think that using Hearthpoints is spiritually healthy, but…let me go ahead and review it as fairly as I can.
In the end, I just might surprised you with a bit of positivity—but just a bit. That said, I’m going to divide this review into two parts:
- Reviewing the app as just an app.
- And then reviewing it as a tool for improving our relationship with Christ.
Simple, Clean, and Task-Oriented
The core idea behind Heartpoints is checking-in. It’s like a running score card throughout the day. If you do something good, like praise God or read the Bible, the you check-in with that activity, and if you do something bad, you check-in with that sin. At the end of the day, you thank God for the good things and repent for the bad. It looks like this:
Of course, every good check-in can be shared with friends and family via Twitter and Facebook, which seems a bit too “Look at me! Look at me!” for an app that lists pride as a negative/sin checkin. On the positive side, the app is free, but if you don’t like your spirituality being subsidized, you can pay $.99 for upgrade to the ad-free version.
If Our Faith Were an RPG
Ok, so that’s basically how the app works. It’s not that complex, but my feelings about it are a bit tangled. Firstly, I want to admit that after installing this app about a week ago, it has prompted me to “check-in to my heart” a few times. And you know what? It’s been a very hard week, and those little promptings were quite helpful. At the time of this writing, I’ve never actually used the app seriously, but I have used those little push notifications as reminders to rest my soul in God, to seek Him even in the midst of my frustration and tension. So for that, I’m thankful.
That being said, overall, this app is exactly what Christianity shouldn’t be: an over-simplified, legalistic checklist. Christianity is not and should never be focussed on us or on what we do. It’s entirely about God and what He has done through Jesus. Our good behavior doesn’t negate the fact that we need not only salvation from our past sins but an indwelling of God’s Spirit to empower us to live free from the present power of sin. Likewise, our bad choices can’t make us any less holy for it’s not the presence or absence of sin that makes us more or less holy. No, it’s the presence of the Holy Spirit living and working within us that makes us holy. And yet, by using an app like this, aren’t we relying upon ourselves to monitor and increase our holiness? The truth is that holiness is “Christ in us,” His Spirit living within us, actively reshaping our desires and making us more like Jesus.
Any effort that we put forward without the Spirit’s leading/power would be like trying to run on a car on the wrong kind of fuel. The engine may run for a while, but the results will never be what was expected or desired and, in the long term, the engine might be damaged. Heartpoints might be a helpful way of tracking your Christianity life, but I just feel like that robs it of its organic, spiritual nature. Not only that, but it puts us in control of our spiritual development, a position that we are not qualified to hold.
If you want a way to track your growth, stop. You’re thinking about Christianity all wrong. If you’d like to record the story of God working in your life, invest in a nice Moleskine, download Evernote, or write in the margins of your Bible because there’s nothing wrong with wanting to record past mistakes and victories. There’s quite a bit that’s unhealthy, even wrong, with tracking it day by day so that you know what to pray about that night.
Would/Do you use an app to track your spiritual life?