12:32 p.m. Free Slurpee Day
One of the mistakes we make when we go online is to assume that because it is virtual, it is unrelated to virtue. That because things are out there on the Internet, they have no internal effect on our souls. But did you know there is an invisible yet very real string that runs from our laptop screen to our hearts? The question is, which way is it tugging us?
“Keep your heart with all vigilance,” the wise father urges in Proverbs, “for from it flow the springs of life” (4.23).
In the digital age, we understand vigilance—only we call it “staying connected.” We check Facebook countless times per day to see what our friends are up to or if they’ve left any messages on our wall. We have “push” on our phones to alert us of the latest tweet or message. We have news readers that bring us the most recent posts from all around the world wide web. When it comes to our online habits, we are nothing if not vigilant.
But what about our hearts? Do we have alerts set up to warn us if our hearts are being negatively influenced by our Internet habits? Are we constantly monitoring our affections for the things of God? What springs are flowing from our online activity?
It doesn’t take long for the “springs” of my online life to become polluted. I click on a few decorating blogs and before I know it I’m complaining about all the areas in my home that I wish I could change but don’t have the time, talent, or resources. Or, I log on to check the latest news and end up fighting anxiety over the most recent economic crisis, local crime wave, or political development.
Most often, the effect of my Internet use on my heart is gradual. Almost imperceptible. Over time I can become more in tune with the immediate and less aware of the eternal. More dissatisfied with what God has given me and more aware of what others have. More excited about what I can discover online and less excited about what I discover in God’s Word.
The straight edge of Proverbs 4:23 reveals the crookedness of our hearts. And so we would do well to pray with the old hymn:
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
A few Sundays ago, some friends invited my and Kristin’s family over for lunch after church. Yes, do some quick math in your head and you’ll realize that’s a lot of people. 4 Adults and 7 children. And these friends have 5 children of their own. Tara-Beth, you are a brave and gracious hostess. I still laugh when I think of MJ coming into the living room covered in watermelon (which she was eating in some other part of your house) and you just smiling and saying no-big-deal. I obviously have a large amount of sanctification that still needs to occur in my life.
Along with the wonderful fellowship and the messy children, we enjoyed some very yummy food. Tara-Beth served us a Cobb salad that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since we left—3 weeks ago now. I know, I really have it bad for this salad. It was delicious. She got the recipe from the well-known cooking blog Smitten Kitchen. But more than just being out-of-this world good, it was a fantastic dish for hospitality. Almost all of the parts can be prepared ahead of time so there is very little last minute prep involved. And have I mentioned that it is so so yummy?
Would anyone like to come over this Sunday? Cobb salad is on the menu.
I became nearsighted in high school around the time I started using a computer for hours every day at work. I don’t know if there’s a connection between the two. After a quick Google search (ironic!) I learned that the evidence is inconclusive.
But I do know one thing for sure: our online habits can make us spiritually nearsighted. Worse than that, they can make us so nearsighted that we become spiritually blind. That’s what it says in 2 Peter 1:5-9:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”
The promise of the Internet is that it will open our eyes to new worlds. It is supposed to make us more connected, more efficient, more knowledgable. And it can! But this verse tells us that the opposite can also happen. There is a very real danger that instead of learning more, we may know less. Instead of loving more we may love less. Instead of remembering more we may remember less.
As we stare at our computer screens, we may be going spiritually blind.
So let’s pull out this Scriptural straight edge and measure: Do my online habits make me more or less effective in my knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Do the articles and websites I read online make me more virtuous?
Does the time I spend on Facebook result in more brotherly affection and love for others?
Does my activity on Pinterest make me more self-controled?
Do my tweets help me and others grow in steadfast faith and endurance?
Do my online habits contribute to a greater knowledge of God’s Word?
If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, then our Internet use may be making us ineffective or unfruitful in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be causing us to forget that we were cleansed from our past sins. With every click and view, we may be going blind to the gospel.
A friend sent me this funny video, and it seemed appropriate in light of our series on the Internet. Although this may be taking it a little too far!
See you all Monday,
Carolyn for my girls
The woman asks: “So dad, how do you like the iPad we got you?”
“But everyone else is doing it!”
What mom hasn’t been on the receiving end of this argument from a child? And what mom hasn’t o-so-cleverly retorted: “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”
As silly as a child’s reasoning may be, we often approach our online habits in the same childish manner. A new website entices us with its beautiful pictures or clever writing, or a new platform makes it easier for us to connect with others, to receive and share information and conversation. And everyone else is doing it!
We assume (like the child) that it must be OK. More than that, it must be good and desirable. More than that, we must have it, use it, be involved. We can’t possibly miss out on this opportunity! So with nary a nod to our conscience or a thought for God’s Word, we jump off the latest online cliff.
This little series aims to help us all stop and think. But more than that, to evaluate our online habits in light of God’s Word.
As one of my heroes in the faith, Elisabeth Elliot, has said “we can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.” We must hold up the time and manner of our Internet use next to the Bible and see how crooked or straight it is. We must ask: are my online habits dictated, directed, and in line with the Word of God?
Given the pervasive influence of the Internet in every corner of our lives, surely we can agree on the importance of this question. And even though Holy Scripture was written thousands of years before the human invention of the Internet, in the fathomless wisdom of God its truth is ever-prescient. And as often happens when we come to God’s Word, we may be surprised by what we find.
So do you have your Straight Edge ready? Let’s measure.