In August 2021 the Internet will be 30-years-old, not that anybody will celebrate this milestone, however, it is worth considering how much it has changed our lives over the past nearly three decades. Older folk can hardly remember life without it, while for young people today it is something they have known all their lives.
Our move into the ‘Information Age’ with the coming of the Internet has changed our lives in many ways, both good and bad. With unlimited information at our fingertips and all the millions of websites and apps we can access, we are still faced with the daily challenge of making it a beneficial resource rather than letting it lead us astray.
Also known as the World Wide Web, and with www still a component of many urls, the Internet comprises a vast net which can draw us in via many ways, including keyword search, online advertising or through social media. In my mind the Internet is more of a vast tree with unlimited branches and I think this analogy is well suited to a Biblical understanding of knowledge.
This goes right back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were given the choice to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or from the Tree of Life. The Intenet is both a force for good and for evil and our choice as believers is to stick to those branches that are good and stay away from those that are bad. In this way we will retain our relationship with God and will one day eat from the Tree of Life in Heaven.
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 2214)
The Information Age marks the zenith of man’s achievement in his quest for ‘godhood’. You see the promise the serpent made to Eve was that she could be like God, who is all-knowing. It has been said that “information is the currency” of this age and now every individual has the option to know more than they could ever imagine, both for good and for bad.
Neither inherently good or evil, the Internet is an enormous tree with never-ending branches and billions of leaves. It is a tree though that we need to climb with caution. There is undoubtedly tremendous potential for good, with an unprecedented opportunity for evangelism to share the Gospel. But it is also an equally potent vehicle of darkness.
I am not saying we should avoid the Internet however, we should harness its power for God. We are part of this world, we live in it, but we are not of it. The Internet is nothing more than a macrocosm of society at large. Through technology we can have a clearer picture of what is going on – a bird’s eye, “Google earth” view of the struggle between good and evil.
The Internet, the ultimate vehicle of freedom of speech
In today’s world, we’re faced with so many choices! How do we learn to discern between what is beneficial to our spiritual growth and what isn’t? The Bible tells us that God has set before us life and death and that we should choose life. One would think this is an obvious choice, especially when we are given the answer, yet so many of us choose to go our own way.
We live in a society that strongly esteems the right to choose and this is a God-given right. God did not make us robots but he gave us a brain and a conscience and a right to distinguish for ourselves between right and wrong. Furthermore, He gave us guidelines to live by in His Word which set the framework for society. When we cherish this direction, we walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We walk in faith, trusting in God’s greater understanding, benevolence and loving-kindness. When we choose to go our own way, who knows what downward path that may lead us.
On the positive side, the Internet has dramatically enhanced communication worldwide, enabling us to talk to people anywhere within seconds at little or no cost. We can easily identify and network with people of like-minds and reach many, more for Christ. On the negative side, the Internet is a platform for every kind of cult and perversion, to perpetuate their ungodly ideologies on an unsuspecting world.
With very little regulation / restraint the Internet is the ultimate vehicle of free speech, where you can say what you like, a utopia for every type of anarchist where anarchy reigns supreme. But it is also a dynamic business tool with important economic implications, a place where fortunes are made and lost.
As I have said, the Internet is just a heightened example of the world we are living in today where there is so much good and evil. Of course, we can’t ignore it, but we cannot allow any “accursed thing” to just invade our homes, especially with regard to our children. We need to ensure that they are not bombarded by decaying values or increasing violence that is easily accessible.
We cannot isolate our children from the world. Technology is the future and they need to be able to flow with new advances in the world of the future So how do we handle this dilemma?
We need to see the Internet as a communication vehicle like a telephone – not inherently good or bad – just a messenger. Do not shoot the messenger, but let’s be careful about the messages we are able to receive. We all know that if you google something, their is no real way to guarantee what will come up.
This may open up our eyes to things we would prefer to have not seen, so be sure to have safe search selected as a preference on your browser. Internet filtering software like Net Nanny may be helpful on some devices, to protect your kids, but this does not relieve parents of the responsibility to supervise their children’s screentime. For those who have an addiction to pornography, Covenant Eyes is a popular resource.
As long as we are aware that we are accessing the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, while we are on the Internet, we should be okay. This kind of diligence is essential. But, let’s not stay on that basic level. Let’s always reach higher, for the Tree of Life!