Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3&4
Facebook, MySpace, blogs , online communities, texting – these are things that were virtually unknown a decade ago. Today our lives, as well as our children’s lives, are dominated by Internet-enabled communities. The use of language has changed as well. There is a cyber vocabulary that is unique to the electronic world. Letter groups such as lol, ttyl, and np, form a modern shorthand that allows for an almost instant transmission of moods, thoughts and plans across cities, states and continents. People write on electronic walls to announce when and what they are eating, what the weather is, and how they feel about it. Amazing! Prior to this new age of cyber community, one would not think of phoning, or even emailing, a friend in another state to announce that they had just put the kids to bed and are now watching the 11 o’clock news. But now, thanks to Facebook, dozens, if not hundreds of folks—many of whom you don’t even know—are aware of these kind of details about your life. And, of course, your children are also likely to be citizens of cyberspace, or they soon will be. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask what biblical principles intersect with 21st century electronic information transfer? You have to admit it is a stretch to think of Paul texting Timothy to bring him the parchments so that he can post them on his blog.
However, there are biblical principles to guide you and your children as you venture into the virtual world. These principles cover all of the major types of online communications, but for the sake of brevity I’ll just make direct application to Facebook. I believe there are at least three overriding principles that can serve as safe guides for children and their parents. These are:
∙ consider others more significant than yourself;
∙ communicate only what will build others up;
and most importantly
∙ do all of your communicating realizing that since you belong to Christ, your communications involve his reputation as well as your own.
The point is not simply to avoid evil content in electronic communication, but to actually use these principles to bring honor to Christ while interacting virtually. Ah, someone is saying, where is the fun in that? Which is, of course, the point. Psalm 139 and 121, Proverbs 5:21 and I Corinthians 10:31 all teach that Christians are always in the presence of God, that he knows our deepest thoughts continually, and that with our minds and mouths and fingers we are to bring honor to him in all the things that we do. We never cease being in relationship with God. His Spirit dwells within us! This point is foundational to each of the three principles we will examine together in upcoming posts. Online communities such as Facebook provide a transparent view into your life. But do you stop and think that you and all of those participating in this virtual world with you are also even more transparent to God? Like many other things, Facebook provides the opportunity to enjoy your relationship with Christ as you interact with others. The more you delight in your relationship with Christ, the more you can bring honor to him as you participate online.
Give this some thought and let me know what you think. We will look at the first principle of considering others to be more significant than you in the next post.