Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How the Internet is Killing the Church

How the internet is killing the church
(Pixabay)

MUSINGS

There was a time when bumper stickers were really popular. People from all walks of life would post whatever was important to them on their car’s bumper and the messages were often pointed and bold statements like “Vote for MY CHOICE for president!” “Turn or Burn!” “My Chihuahua Can Beat Up Your Doberman!” You get the idea. Oftentimes, these same people would never speak out in public like this. Instead, they would let the sticker do the talking.

You still see bumper stickers from time to time, but not nearly as often. Why? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I think that internet has a lot to do with it. Now instead of our cars, we hide behind our Facebook pages making bold statements to our friends and family that we would otherwise be too shy to make in person. For me, the most frightening thing is how the internet culture has affected the Christian. Find just about any news article or opinion piece about a Christian author, pastor or church and scroll down to the comments section and you’ll see what I mean. This is where you’re going to find people at their worst. Christians slamming fellow Christians because they don’t share the same opinion or interpret a Bible verse in the same way. I’ve seen name-calling and harsh language used often. And sadly, I’ve been caught up in it too. Why do we do this?

I’ve appreciated the attempts in the recent years to curb bullying (where were you when I was in school?) but honestly, I’m reading a lot more bullying online from those stating that we need love everyone. I see the word “hate” or "hater" being used a lot more often now. Of course, my knee-jerk reaction is to spout off some angry or harsh criticism on why I am not a hater, which rarely proves my point and often proves their's. I’ve also been spoken to harshly from others who claim that they just want to “love” everyone. I get it, but just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that I hate you nor do I deserve to be spoken to like that. None of us do.

Just as fire can be good and bad, so can the internet. But I believe that the internet has given us a false sense of reality. That somehow we believe that we can say whatever we want and it won’t hurt us or anyone else. While we need to take responsibility for our own actions, we also need to be aware that this great tool can equally be destructive.

A former pastor of mine used to say that the church is like a hospital. Recently, a friend of mine commented that now the church looks more like a mental ward. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Is that what we’re doing? Or are we just stabbing each other? On the other hand, it doesn’t help anyone if you only tell them what they want to hear. If you see a friend fall in a pit, do you send down a rope to help to climb out or do you toss down pillows and a blanket to make them feel more comfortable?

We are all human and none of us are perfect. But we can do better. We need to do better. We need to watch what we say and how we say it. There is a world watching us, and they don’t care who is right and who is wrong. They just want to hear the good news and know that there is hope for them.

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