Glorifying God in Cyberspace

by Stephanie Shin

The speed and volume of knowledge in the age of the Internet is staggering. Cyberspace has penetrated virtually every domain of human living: sports, communication, finance, shopping, news media, entertainment, religion, and now more than ever, personal journaling, called weblogs or blogs, for short. You know these blogs well in its many forms: Xanga, WordPress, Blogspot, and social networking blogs such as Facebook and Myspace. The web has created a “blogosphere,” a little space on the internet that a person can call their own.

As I personally saw the internet become more heavily integrated into my own life, the questions I heard that related to this topic became more acute: if someone were to track my internet activity, would they be able to identify me as a Christian? Do the blogs I write and the blogs I read reveal a consistency of who I say I am in Christ? Do they reflect the reality of my walk with God? How do I surf the web to the glory of God? These questions have a two-pronged direction towards blogging and web surfing.

On his own website (albertmohler.com), Albert Mohler quotes Rupert Murdoch of the behemoth media conglomerate NewsCorp, “They don’t want to rely on a godlike figure from above to tell them what’s important. They certainly don’t want news presented as gospel. Instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it.” Ironic that Murdoch would use a religious metaphor, but he depicts well the liberty that the web offers, and this not only limited in the news that we read, that most people take for granted. Mohler addresses the new missiological challenge—how is the gospel to penetrate this new virtual reality?

In reference to personal blogs, we can look at the life of Paul, who allowed the gospel to direct all of his life. In 2 Corinthians 10:11, he writes: “Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when are absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.” In the context, the false apostles accused Paul of writing powerful, influential letters while in reality he seemed to lack the qualities of a truly great leader.

Paul’s response to the apostles was simple: he defended his ministry for the sake of the Corinthians, but his only interest was what his Lord thought of him. He sought to exalt Christ more than himself. Paul’s life was one characterized by the gospel and a desire to submit to the will of Christ—his words aligned with his actions; had he wanted to, he could have more than defended himself against these false teachers. Similarly, in the lives of our personal blogs, can we be sure that the content matches our real-life identity in Christ? Have our words become greater than we really are?

Recently, Pastor Patrick memtioned a post on Rick Holland’s blog during a sermon discussion. It served as a pretty harsh but helpful rebuke. Holland writes: “Most blogs are masquerades. They make people look like something they’re not. Bloggers pose as theologians, philosophers, statesmen for causes, even spokesmen for Christianity when they are little more than guys with some computer savvy and a strong opinion.”

Over a hundred years ago, William Blake prayed: “Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose.” When I stumbled across this quote, I altered it to: “Take my Internet and use every power as Thou shalt choose.” Cheesy, but it gets the point across! Web surfing is the 21st century’s invisible leisure activity. An innocent “checking-the-email” session can find unchecked hours fly by on Youtube. The websites available for our entertainment and reading pleasure are countless, and the time spent on it potentially endless.

But web surfing doesn’t always have to be wasteful; on the contrary, some time spent on the web can be profitable for the purpose of edification, encouragement and learning. Learned men of faith have kept up with the times and now post blogs of their own. Sermons are now offered on podcasts, and believers can interact on the net. Again, it’s not the internet that is, in and of itself, a bad thing; it’s the way we utilize it that can either bring God glory or not. Jonathan Edwards’s fifth resolution was this: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.” In the same vein, Ephesians 5:15-16 writes “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”

Rick Holland’s post on blogging ended liked this: “Because on the road to Damascus, in Acts 9, Saul was converted. The Apostle Paul met the living Savior and everything changed. His life was intercepted. His perspective was reversed. His eyes were opened. His passion was redirected. His worldview changed. His soul was converted. His mission was clear. Paul’s approaching Damascus is a rallying point. It symbolizes for me a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything” (emphasis added).

Our whole lives are to be marked by the gospel, even in cyberspace where the internet can serve as an extension of what we are learning and what we believe to shine the light to those who don’t know Christ.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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