When I think of the marvel of our instant access to messages, pictures, and videos of our loved ones, even on the other side of the world; the access to services, events, news, facts, research, products, and even business opportunities, I sometimes think of our dear sister in faith Eve. Eve, like each of us, was human and weak, and when she met with the master of subtlety, the Serpent, he beguiled and deceived her. None of us could have withstood his power. He drew her attention using his knowledge of God’s command, his knowledge of the Tree, and his knowledge of this dear innocent sister in faith, and asked, “Did God say you cannot eat of every tree in the garden?”
Availability of Good and Evil
The Internet today is like the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As Eve noted, “a tree to be desired to make one wise.” Who of us is not tempted by the desire to be wise? What the Serpent did not explain to Eve is that not only was this direct disobedience to God’s command, the first and original sin in Paradise, but it was the tree of knowledge of both good and evil. Could Eve have even understood this concept of evil when she dwelled in Paradise where she had never encountered evil? We all know that the Internet and social media represents both all the good and all the evil that we can find in the world.
The Internet and social media is like walking down the biggest street in the world, where everything is offered before us. We can be tempted by all kinds of information —products, services, and a myriad of entertainment—anything we can think of. None of these were actually invented on the Internet, but what is new is instant access anytime, anywhere—even on our phones.
Internet as a Tool
I have long been an avid user of the Internet even before there was a worldwide Web or a Google. I was impressed when I was doing a research project for a client and was able to access information at a University research center without going to the library or even leaving home.
Today I still do many projects, and the Internet gives me easy access to information. Google will even provide rough translations to information in many countries around the world. Everything is not on the Internet, but it usually provides a good start and gives connections to many experts who probably have information that I’m looking for.
This is a tree of knowledge of good and evil, and it does not require much effort to find all the evil known to man on the Internet. This is a place of watching for every believer and for every home. God asked Adam, “Where are you?” He of course knew where Adam and Eve were, but He knew that they were hidden. Yet, where were they in their relation to Him as their Creator and Heavenly Father?
God Knows All
One illusion of the Internet is anonymity. It is easy for someone to search for anything if he or she thinks it’s hidden from others. Another symptom of this is a willingness to say just about anything if we think that those words cannot be traced back to us. This illusion emboldens our flesh. This is why God reached out to fallen man to ask, “Where are you?” God reaches out and calls to each of us even today. We know that God knows where we are and what we are doing.
Another place of watching is the wide variety of entertainment so readily available on social media and the Internet. Much of this can start out fairly innocently, but quickly we can find ourselves watching something on YouTube that is not appropriate.
Rockford Congregation Discussion
In January, at a parents evening in the Rockford church, we discussed how we need to provide a refuge from the world in our homes, places that are safe from temptations and where the gospel is preached. We know that we each bring our own corrupt and weak flesh home every day, but we need to support our young ones and each other to battle against sin.
Some families have put the computer in a central location so that no one is tempted to go to sinful websites, videos, games, or other inappropriate material. Social media is also a concern. What do we do when we have all the power of the Internet in our pocket on our cell phone?
Many schools issue iPads or Chromebooks to students, and these are a central tool to their everyday class. The schools use some screening tools for these computers which limit what kind of sites they can access.
Some parents said that they had installed software to filter out unwanted websites. Others said that they limited time on the computer and phones. We also discussed that we need to be good examples by not spending too much time on our phones or on the computer and to make sure that we are there in person for our children and each other. We need to be there for each other to preach the gospel when we fall into sin—even if we fall into sin on the Internet.
June/July 2017 Voice of Zion
- New Voice of Zion Feature: The Father’s Call
- Luther Experienced Loss of Loved Ones
- Column: God Hears Our Prayer
- Commentary: Work is a Gift, or Is It?
- Put Sin Away
- Introduction to The Small Catechism
- Times of Visitation
- Mikael Agricola, Finnish Reformer
- Editorial: Man, in the Place of God
- Faith Is God’s Gift