Christians in this 21st century ought to be aware we are living through a media transformation on par with the invention of the printing press in 1440. The explosion of cell phones and social media sites like Facebook mean the communication possibilities on a given day are virtually limitless. In this new media environment “citizen journalists” are able to wield tremendous influence as they report on things happening in their sphere of influence.
But the Internet also creates another class of users. They fall into the same trap Paul warns about for young widows: “they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house [or chat to chat], and not only idlers but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (I Timothy 5:13). Such people consume drivel and produce nothing.
So my question to you is: are you a consumer or producer? Is the Internet facilitating your mission as a Christian, or fueling your lusts and pathologies? Are you leading others, or being led astray as slaves to various passions and pleasures (Titus 3:3)? In a word, are you a follower of others or a leader toward Grace in cyberspace?
Consider the teachings of our Savior as you learn to surf Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone).
Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Is your heart tightly connected to your local church, and face to face relationships on a regular (i.e. weekly) basis? Is you heart being filled with “good treasure” through diligent use of the means of grace? Are you treasuring that treasure, or letting the Internet steal it from you? As you look at your browsing history, what are you producing that God would call good (see Phil. 4:8)?
Matthew 13:52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Are you connecting the lessons you’ve learned in discipleship to your behavior on the Internet? In our church the Sixth Vow of church membership reads “I promise to seek first the kingdom of God in all the relationships of life, faithfully to perform my whole duty as a true servant of Jesus Christ, and seek to win others to him.” The kingdom of heaven has (in some ways) gone digital in the 21st century, and we need to think carefully about how we were trained and how we are training others to use this tool for God’s covenant purposes.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The new media is built around people. It has the capacity to carry the “prophetic voice” of the Church that TV networks and even cable channels do not. It is for this reason that we who follow Jesus ought to learn to populate the Internet with the Gospel — and with a calling for the Crown Rights of King Jesus. Here are 10 ideas of how to connect your activity online to your discipleship of Jesus.
1. Publish Scripture in some fashion on your blog or Facebook page every time you post.
2. Bookmark in your browser Christian articles or sermons that really touch your heart. Then recommend them periodically.
4. Encourage and serve the elders of your local church in populating your church’s website with Christ-centered material. Is you church broadcasting at Reformed Voice?
5. End a Facebook chat or email with “what three things I can pray for you today?” Then do it!
6. Might the Lord be calling you to build your own website? Here’s a book that might help. Don’t let it get out of date.
7. Be honest with yourself and with God. Do you feel trapped in an Internet addiction? Be honest with yourself and God about this besetting sin, and make a confidential appointment with a trusted friend. A post on secret sin was the most viewed video at CCEF in 2010!
8. Practice basic good manners at all times.Vulgar language and sarcasm have no place in the words of a believer (Eph. 5:4). Remember, the less you know a person the greater the opportunity for miscommunication. An internet chat may need to become a telephone call if the conversation turns sober.
9. The Internet is like your town: there are certain places where trouble is just lurking. Avoid questionable websites, online friendships, and consider carefully online safety.
10. Not all believers are called to be online. In fact, some are very certain they ought not to be, or that they need to go through a “media fast” for a time. Is the Lord calling you to disconnect for a while? We ought to be tender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, respectful of the communication choices of others, and drawing ever nearer to Christ.