Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Online integrity

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Peter 2:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "Therefore laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby." 2 Peter 2:1-2

I love the guileless, transparent picture of the ideal Christian Peter paints for us here. It sounds so simple to live that way and probably would be if our lives weren't full of other people — people we don't like or we wish liked us; people we are trying to impress or are trying to impress us; people who bug us or bore us, intimidate us or are mean to us; people who talk too much or too little; people we think are wrong and people with whom we agree; people to whom we impute ulterior motives or whom we admire immensely. We meet up with these and how quickly the game-playing begins!

A new challenge to the integrity of our relationships is interacting with people through technology. The non face-to-face aspect of these interactions (through e-mail, cell phones, text messages, Facebook, blogs, comments, forums, etc.) makes us more vulnerable than ever to manipulate who we are and to be someone we're not to serve our own ends.

Tim Challies in his book The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion says:

"In all the ways we communicate today, we may use our technologies to destroy relationship instead of foster it, to tear down instead of build up....Through the Bible God calls us to speak truth in love. Truth and love are the twin pillars that should uphold all our communication" p. 85.

Then he goes on to give four measures to implement in our online life which will help us foster truth and love:

" Be visible. If anonymity can be an enemy and a refuge, then visibility can work to keep us from slipping into sinful patterns of living and communicating...

Be accountable....Let friends or family know what you are doing online; invite them into your digital world ....

Be real. Don't fabricate for yourself an identity online that is vastly different from your real-world identity....

Be mature. To sum it up, you will need to act like a mature Christian. Paul draws a clear connection between maturity and the ability to speak truth in love....

And always distrust yourself. It may sound harsh, but be willing to doubt your motives, your heart. Take a moment to pray before answering an antagonistic e-mail; bounce your ideas and articles off trusted friends before posting them; be slow to speak (or type) and quick to listen" - p. 86.

What great advice to us in what has become a technology-medicated generation.

Of course on top of this, we would do well to be closer followers of Peter's second bit of advice, to "desire the pure milk of the word" above all the trillions of online words.

PRAYER: Dear God, please change me at a heart level so all my relationships and communications, no matter how they are conducted, are free from malice, deceit, envy and evil speaking. Help me to feed on Your words more than the multitudes of others' words available to me. Amen.


Tim Challies, the author of The Next Story is an Ontario resident who blogs at For insightful book reviews, commentary on the Christian faith, and observations about life from a Reformed perspective, his blog is a great resource.

 Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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