I’m not saying anything new when I call the internet a toxic environment. For years, there have been reports about how the internet’s anonymity fosters abuse and cyber-bullying. What disturbs me is the current trend of Christians joining in with the aggressive, negative language and insults. I’m not sure why this is happening. Perhaps some are tired of being picked on, so they strike back like in a blog I read recently where the author mentioned being verbally attacked for choosing abstinence. His response was to call those that don’t choose abstinence before marriage names I’d rather not mention here. However, the Bible says to love your enemies (Luke 6:27). Perhaps some feel calling someone an idiot, or worse, is the only way to get a person’s attention. However, the Bible says our words should be good and helpful. (Eph 4:29) Perhaps some join in simply because that is the internet’s environment. However, the Bible says we are not supposed to be like the environment around us (Rom 12:2).
Whatever the reason, the culture of the internet has made us forget that we are supposed to be a light (Matt 5:15). Several months ago, I realized that we Christians are lacking the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) when it comes to online interactions. Our posts, shares, and statuses need to pass through the filter of the Holy Spirit before we type them. The following is my prayer whenever I am online.
Lord, please give me
Love when people post unloving things about me
Joy despite the negativity swirling around me
Peace when people mock my beliefs
Patience with others’ opinions
Kindness when I comment on blogs and statuses
Goodness, so that my words build up instead of tear down
Faithfulness regardless of popular consensus
Gentleness when replying to opposing viewpoints
and, most of all,
Self-control before I hit send.