Christians and the Media: Part 4 of 4 (the Internet)

Christians and the Media: Part 4 of 4 (the Internet) – Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

The Internet

I want to introduce each part of this series with these three ideas for parents and teachers . . .

  • Listen. Find out what movies, music, and TV your teens are consuming. Position yourself first as an information gatherer, not just as a censor. Become familiar with their media choices.
  • Analyze. Ask yourself, “Why do these have appeal?” “What questions do these media address that are really important to my teens?”
  • Challenge. Demonstrate that the Bible discusses the very topics that their favorite songs, movies and TV programs address. Help your students compare and contrast the biblical and media views.

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Monitor the time you spend online.

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

As human beings we do have limited time on this planet. We must guard our time conscientiously and invest it wisely. When giving some basic advice for living the Christian life, the apostle Paul warned the Ephesians that they should “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16; King James Version). The days are evil because the world offers many distractions that tempt us to fritter away precious time. We are not guaranteed another day of life, but we are responsible for the hours of every day that we are granted.

A majority of employers believe that their employees spend too much time on the Internet for non-work related activity. This waste of time is projected to decrease productivity and increase costs for businesses. There are now studies that show that the average teen spends so much time on the Web during the course of a week that their mental and physical health is being compromised. The biblical advice to treat time as a precious commodity should be heeded by those who surf the Web.

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Use the Internet rather than be used by it.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.1 Corinthians 6:12

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23, 24

The ancient city of Corinth was filled with temptations of every kind. When Paul preached the gospel in that city, many responded. The idea that we are saved by God’s grace and not by the keeping of a written code was appealing. However some believers in Corinth quickly twisted the gospel message into an “anything goes” philosophy.

Paul told them that they missed the point. Abstaining from certain activities would not save them. But participating in them could bring about negative consequences. Legally, everything was permissible, but engaging in sinful acts is habit-forming (1 Corinthians 6:12). Some activities would take time that should be used for building positive relationships with others (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24).

As fallen people, we act like slaves. It is tempting to enslave ourselves to seemingly pleasurable but ultimately addictive activities. It’s a downhill path, leading to “ever-increasing wickedness”. In Christ we have the alternative to offer ourselves “in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness” (Romans 6:19). Serving Jesus is an easy “yoke”, unlike the exhausting, draining burden of sin (Matthew 11:28 – 30).

The Internet is a portal that allows both good and evil to flow through it. It is easy to even innocently become a virtual slave to the negative activities that are offered there. Someone addicted to the Internet may suffer from time distortion, disruption of sleep and eating schedules, loss of close relationships and excessive spending. The Internet can literally take over someone’s life if he or she is not careful. Recognize this danger and refuse to let the fantasy virtual world infringe upon your life in the real world.

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Resist the temptation of letting anonymity excuse sinful behavior.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:13 – 15

The number of commercial pornography sites on the Internet increased by nearly 1,800 percent between 1998 and 2003. People who would never go into an adult bookstore or strip club for fear of being recognized feel free to visit sites online. Anonymity is a real danger of the Internet. Since we only reveal as much about ourselves as we want to when we are online, we feel empowered . . .

  • Who will ever know? I won’t be recognized if I browse porn sites.
  • I cannot be tracked after I bully, slander, accuse, malign, hyper-criticize, humiliate or verbally assault someone on a social network or blog.
  • I can treat people harshly without fear of repercussions. I’m free to be bad and offensive!

But this is untrue. Using freedom to “indulge the sinful nature” will only create a society so unstable that it will lead to mutual destruction (Galatians 5:13 – 15). King David’s sins (adultery, murder, etc) were not anonymous, and they cost him terribly (2 Samuel 12:7 – 10). He thought he could control the situation and the outcomes. When we think we are “hiding” online, we only fool ourselves (Proverbs 15:3; Matthew 10:26).

So is the Internet good or bad? It really depends on how we choose to use this tool. But a believer can be a responsible cyber-citizen by monitoring his or her time spent online, using (and not being) used by this medium and not letting anonymity compromise his or her moral decisions.

Application

Set a time limit

Grab the kitchen timer (or an Internet app) and set it for your time before you get online. Remember, being online can distort your sense of time.

Online gossip is still gossip

Don’t pass on rumors through your email or social networking accounts. Many of them are not true. Check out rumors on reliable sites such as http://www.snopes.com/

Don’t even look at it

Spammers (for all kinds of things you don’t need) try to trick you into opening their email. Most email servers allow you to set up a bulk mailbox to where spam will be sent. Just empty this folder without even looking at it.

Be accountable

The worst place for you and your computer (or iPad ) is behind a locked door. If you can move your computer to a less private area, do so. If not, keep your door open when online. If anyone can see what you are doing, temptation will lessen. Security and accountability programs are available for conventional computers and smartphones.

Connect as a Christian

Consider opening your own spot on Web. Share your faith with others on a personal blog or an online club. Share useful and positive content on your social network accounts. The same goes for video sharing sites, podcasting and photos.

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