There is nothing as commonly used today as the internet. You are on it right now! I used the internet to research and write this blog post. Over 55% of the entire world’s population have frequent interaction with the internet (1). Jim Gilliam, founder and CEO of Nation Builder, an organization devoted to giving everyone opportunity to become leaders through the internet (2), said that “god is just what happens when humanity is connected…the truth is we all owe every moment of our lives to countless people we will never meet”(3). He believes that the internet has given man power to be god because it connects billions of people. I believe that the true triune God is the only One that can beautifully network people. I think we can take value from analyzing the internet’s role in the world and God’s church throughout all nations in regards to the connection of the world through the internet and the shortcomings within these networks.
The internet connects the world in a way nothing ever has before. Distance, language, and culture is becoming less and less of a barrier between people. These things certainly still play their part, but it is much easier to get past them through web applications to translate, instantly connect, and learn about one another. The scary truth is who has the most influence on the internet. Often, leaders on the internet are not good examples. The world does not pick leaders based on ethical rightness but follow as a flock, and all “like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). Consider Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Today, the internet has made it easier than ever before to follow that which is right in their own eyes. One can sit in the cover of his or her screen and enjoy sinful pleasures only wealthy men such as King Ahasuerus, who summoned all the women for a beauty contest, once had. The internet can quickly connect us with wickedness.
However, this first point is not to say the internet is awful and should never be used. The internet has many benefits and we rejoice in this truth as well. The internet has opened many doors for spreading the gospel. Tools are accessible to study the Bible, it is easier to communicate with other believers near and far, and social media provides an opportunity to let our light shine. In our current situation with the coronavirus, the internet provides us some connection with others even when we remain home. It is not the same, but we rejoice we can still talk with one another and have some semblance of a worship service on Sunday. The connection the internet provides can be a great blessing when used properly for God’s glory.
While billions are connected through the internet, God’s remnant is also connected through one Spirit and one mind in the service of Him. This connection is far superior. In our network, we seek God’s glory. We do not seek our entertainment or sinful pleasures as many do through the internet. We do not walk after the flesh in this bond, but all together “we live in the spirit” and “walk in the spirit” (Gal. 5:25). In this bond, we are called to minister one to another and provoke one another to love and good works (Heb. 6:10, 10:24). When Jesus speaks to God he prays, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:21). I have heard from those around me who disregard the network of faith ask, “How do you have so many friends in so many places?” They are puzzled at the fact I have friends in the Philippines, Canada, Ireland, and all across America. I have made many friends in only a week at convention. Other friends I have only met over social media. It is because of the bond of faith that draws all God’s people together that I can be confident of my friendship with these friends abroad. When we speak of Christ with one another we quickly grow in friendship and the true union that can only be found in Him.
These networks at times have their errors and their faults. Though it is amazing that so many are connected and can share information through the internet, this freedom allows for many to spread false information. As information rapidly flies around, it can be hard to know what information is real and what to trust. There is also the issue of connection. At times one can lose connection to the internet or have poor service. In God we will never be taken from his covenant because it is “an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7).
As God’s people we have perfect union with God and with one another as saints. However, while we are still on earth sin often sets a barrier to this union. Sin is all that prevents perfect fellowship. Sin is often referred to as transgression, rebellion (Ps. 32:1). When we sin we distance ourselves from God and say, “I do not want to follow Your way for me.” In our sin, we might hold grudges towards one another rather than forgive each other’s sins. However, we can forgive one another of these sins and the perfect unity in the spirit can be enjoyed again. We find greater comfort in God who has forgiven our sin and compasses us with songs of deliverance (Ps. 32:7). We see here how even though sin might at times make us feel bitter toward one another or make us feel distant from God, the unity in the Spirit is far greater than the connection found on the internet. We look forward to the day God will unite us all in heaven where sin will no longer hinder our union with Him and with one another.
It is amazing how connected the world has become through the internet. As God’s people, there are many benefits we can enjoy in this connection. In current times, we may not be able to gather physically as brethren in God, but we can be thankful too for the connections we have through the internet. We thank God especially that we have an everlasting covenant of perfect union with Him and our fellow brethren in Christ. In our place within these networks, may we always be mindful of our unity with God and serve Him by our use of the internet and through our relationships with one another.
Luke Christian Potjer
- World Economic Forum, 2020: “https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-digital-divide-internet-data-broadband-mobbile/#:~:text=Globally%2C%20only%20just%20over%20half,in%20the%20past%20two%20decades.
- Nation Builder Mission: https://nationbuilder.com/mission
- Jim Gillian, “The Internet is my Religion”, 2011: https://www.jimgilliam.com/pdf11