In Part One of The Next Story Tim guides us through the history and way our digital revolution has come about and shaped our culture.
In chapter 4 he begins to probe the implications of the digital revolution specifically for the Christian. The theme - communication.
Tim begins the chapter talking about the straits of Gibraltar and what the implications of this were on society during the slave trade. He discusses how as men traveled and they got past Gibraltar they felt free from the moral, familial, and religious constraints of their home. "[E]very man became a bachelor once he was beyond Gibraltar" (pg 67). This anonymity lent itself well to indulging in sin - after all, nobody would ever know! You know, except for God. The problem? This new found freedom was just a different type of constraint, a different type of bondage.
Without law and without oversight, there was great freedom, and yet, as Newton would testify, there was also great captivity. In all the freedom to sin, he became bound by his sin, enslaved to it...When visibility was lost, as with those men who sailed byond Gibraltar, so too was accountability. And hard on its heels was morality.(pg 68)
Tim likens this anonymity, this "freedom" to what we can find online...and what we must strive against. Throughout the chapter Tim encourages the reader to live on and offline the same life - a life pleasing to the Lord. He offers some practical suggestions for online accountability - let your pastor know what you're blogging, allow people in your "offline" world to be part of your online one so that when you stray they can lovingly show you, ask them for input as to the amount of time you spend online (or whatever your fixation may be).
Further, Tim exhorts us to remember that though we may deceive ourselves, though we may deceive others, God sees into the heart of the matter. Additionally, it is not just our time that we ought to be concerned with - but the quality of that time. We have opportunities to interact with more people than any other generation before us - as Christians, ought we not seek to use these opportunities to build up the Body?
Tim deals with the fact that we're called to speak, and not only just to speak - after all there's plenty of that going on, just check Facebook - but to speak truth and to speak it in love. Tim argues that we can't neglect either truth or love as we interact with other people if we're going to be fulfilling the command to build up the Body and encourage each other. As I was reading I couldn't help but think of John 1:17:
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Jesus exemplified what truth and love out to look like for us. He came to ransom wretched, undeserving sinners. He showed His love toward us by dying for us, yet His entire earthly ministry sought to shed light, to speak truth. Often those truths were hard to hear, but always spoken with care and concern. He was never quick to speak and slow to hear - and yet the technology before us encourages just that. "Quick and impulsive replies dominate the landscape; thoughtful, longer replies seem out of place and unnecessary" (pg 77).
As Christians, this ought not mark our conversations - online or off - we're called to take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5), to restrain our lips (Proverbs 10:19), and to bridle our tongues (James 1:26, 3:2-6). Because of the possiblity of being able to interact with so many people we should be encouraged, we can encourage our brethren and show the Gospel's beauty to the lost in a capacity that we never could before - after all, God still speaks through His Word.
Words are powerful. In fact, it was words that brought the universe into being, and it is the Word who now brings life to the dead heart.(pg 79)
The entire chapter was incredibly helpful, I've only touched on a couple things that were particularly challenging to my sinful tendencies, so as always grab the book yourself.
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