How the Internet Changes our Relationship with God

It’s no secret that the internet, and especially social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, has changed the way that people relate to each other.  But how does has it changed our most important relationship: the one we have with God.

I wish I had time to really flesh this out, but I just don’t.  Instead I just want to take a few minutes to “brain dump” some of my thoughts about this.  If I get enough comments below then maybe I’ll put more time into this topic again some other time.

It’s so easy to write things to people and about people over the internet.  Example: I was just talking to some youth pastor friends of mine today about cyberbullying over Facebook and how easy it is for people to write comments about someone on Facebook that they wouldn’t dare say in person, because they know how rude it is.  The internet has a way of making us feel “faceless” and anonymous, even though what I write can be tracked back to me and I need to take responsibility for what I’ve written.

I think that as we grow more and more comfortable relating to other people “anonymously” through the internet we also grow more and more comfortable treating God the same way.  We’re “friends” with people on Facebook; we’re “friends” with God because we acknowledge his existence and go to church every once in a while.  We write posts on people’s walls; we shoot up prayers to God.

But what about actually calling people up and spending time with them?  How many people over the internet would you actually call up to ask for advice or to share some new heartache?  Instead, you just post it up to Facebook for the world to see and to comment on without any of the “messyness” real relationships.

It is absolutely impossible to create intimacy with someone over the internet.  I know, I know… “But I’ve formed some really good friendships because of the internet.”  Yes, that’s true – but if you haven’t heard the person’s voice, if you haven’t seen his/her tears or excitement IN PERSON, then you don’t really have true intimacy.  Remember: Intimacy =“Intimacy is the joy of knowing someone fully and being known by that person with no fear of rejection” (Andy Stanley, The Seven Checkpoints.  Howard Books, 2001. p.81).

I find the internet very helpful in initiating communication with some people that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to communicate to.  But when communication over the internet becomes my “default” there’s a dead end in that friendship.

Final thought for now:
Unless we work to maintain person-to-person friendships, endure awkward silences with others, don’t know what to say when the other person says something really difficult, and go out of our way to realize that real friendships aren’t always “convenient” like internet friendship… then I’m convinced we will grow to treat God the same way: like He’s “convenient” and impersonal and doesn’t require much from us.

Last Week at Youth Group: Moral Boundaries

What’s the difference between the fire in a fireplace and a fire that’s burning your house down?  Boundaries.

Is there such thing as a safe fire?  Yes.  And No.  Even a lit candle which is in a jar can burn your house down if that candle is bumped off the table and the flame spreads beyond it’s jar/boundary.

Sex and sexuality are the same way.  God made sex as a wonderful thing… but within its proper boundaries.  On television and in movies sex is used as a shortcut to deep relationships, but God gave us sex as the pinnacle expression of love and intimacy within marriage.

I know many people who have good marriages, but whose marriages are seriously affected because of the previous sexual experiences one or both members had before they got married.  Sexual purity paves the way to intimacy.

The best definition for intimacy I’ve come across is this: “Intimacy is the joy of knowing someone fully and being known by that person with no fear of rejection” (Andy Stanley, The Seven Checkpoints.  Howard Books, 2001. p.81).  I believe we all crave that kind of intimate relationship.  If we listened to the media, we’d think we get that kind of intimacy through sex.  But that intimate relationship comes from sexual purity!

So what are your Moral Boundaries?  Where is your “line” drawn?  How far is too far for you?

In General:

  • The further you go, the faster you go
  • The further you go, the further you want to go
  • The further you go, the more difficult it is to go back

So set clear Moral Boundaries TODAY!  If you wait until you’re alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend to define and defend those boundaries you will eventually go further than you originally want (and further than God wants too!).  Here are four keys to setting clear Moral Boundaries:

  1. Know your own boundaries first, and stick to them
  2. Discuss clear boundaries (if you can’t discuss boundaries, you probably shouldn’t be in this relationship)
  3. Agree on clear boundaries (if you can’t agree on boundaries, you definitely shouldn’t be in this relationship)
  4. Don’t sabotage yourself! (as in: Don’t “hang out” in a house all by yourselves and then wonder why you went too far)

So what do you do if you’ve already gone too far?

  1. Stop! Take a break in the relationship and evaluate whether you need to end it to save yourself.
  2. Drop! Pray.  Confess your sin to God and ask him daily to give you His strength to regain purity.
  3. Roll! Get away from bad influences and get closer to godly influences

Remember God’s love overcomes all sin when you confess and repent.

  • “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103:11-12
  • “But God demonstrates is own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8