So, the connection between the information super-highway and a book in the Bible telling the story of what happened to God’s people over 3000 years ago may not be blindingly obvious to all. Indeed, I have struggled with writing this post to see the connection, until a friend helped me out.
The Book of Judges essentially covers six major and six minor judges of Israel, mirroring the twelve tribes. The story (in brief!) so far is that Yahweh has entered into covenant with his chosen people; He has rescued them from the terrible oppression by the Egyptians and brought them, via a long dusty walk through miles of desert plains, to the land he promised them. All God is asking in return is the faithfulness of his people in worship of Him: the Great I Am; Yahweh. Joshua led the people into Canaan and kept Israel walking with God, according to the covenant. He lived to be the ripe old age of 110, but after him grew up a generation of Israelites who have not known his leadership and did not follow the laws set out in the covenant. And so begins the cycle of rebellion, repentance, peace, and then another rebellion. After each judge the Israelites ‘do evil in the eyes of the Lord’ and by the end of the book “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21 v 25)
Cue the connection with super-fast broadband, or, more specifically, the internet. “In those days… everyone did as they saw fit” The internet is a space that allows people to do just about whatever they think is the ‘right’ thing to do and a whole heap of stuff that definitely isn’t anyone’s definition of ‘right’. All the lies we are fed by the enemy’s PR department for the human race: lies like ‘If it feels good do it’ or ‘As long as you don’t get caught it’s OK’ and many more besides; all those lies come home to roost in the space we call the Net.
From the worst form of sexual depravity through to the insidiousness of online bullying or trolling, all of humanity’s basest behaviours can be found online: everyone simply obeying the slightest impulse to be sarcastic, degrading or mean to one another. You see it most often, I think in the comments sections of news articles online. Slanging matches between people who’ve never met, name calling of the worse kind, people’s opinions utterly slaughtered by someone who disagrees and can’t resist the urge to do it in the most hurtful way.
This, for me, is the most powerful argument for Christians being online. Being light and salt in one of the most difficult spaces, having grace-filled conversations where disagreement is actually OK and we don’t give in to the urge to slander or slaughter someone who dares to have another opinion to ours. Using the channels now open to us to encourage political engagement, to stand up for the poor and trafficked, to uphold the right of all human beings to be treated as equals, to spread good news far and wide.
Let’s not shy away from social media or online engagement, let’s grasp it with both hands and be the light of the world out there, on the World Wide Web.