Last week I began a one-year commitment to mentor a middle-aged man whose life has suddenly collapsed because of the internet. It started off like so many others I know. A chance connection on a social media site with subsequent friendly chats, catapulting into a fully fledged online relationship.
The impact on Fred’s (not his real name of course) family has been devastating. His wife has given her rings back. He’s had to move out. His teenage children are reeling from the angst they now live with. All this because of one thoughtless and careless click of the mouse, combined with an undisciplined, affection-seeking personality. Fred has allowed Satan to enter his life through the smallest of cracks, and turned them into chasms.
Now, maybe you think Fred is one of life’s losers. Not so. Do he and his wife have issues? Of course so. But this is not a ‘type’ issue. I’ve been contacted by people from all walks of like who have succumb to the temptations found on the internet. There’s an old saying, ‘There for the GRACE OF GOD go I.” We all have to be careful, men and women, boys and girls.
Each morning when I arrive at Insight for Living I connect my laptop to the network and begin the morning routine of looking at emails and preparing to attack my ‘to-do’ list.
Thankfully, when our colleagues at IFLUSA setup our email system some years ago, they installed a quarantine filter that detects and stops all suspect mail. As is customary, I check the quarantined listing and scan the subject line to see if the system blocks have misdiagnosed important emails. Almost every day my screen greets me with a range of suggestive subject titles that make me stop and ponder….why am I getting this rubbish? But, while I’m aware of the dangers, I’m still only one click away from disaster. Just one click could take me to websites that are the devil’s playground.
We all tell ourselves that we are disciplined, but every so often that little voice plants a thought, “No-one will notice. No-one will challenge you. There’s no harm. Just take one look.”
I’m aware of the destruction only one click can cause because the Bible’s warning, written in the 1st Century, is as applicable today as it was back then. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,” 1 Peter 5: 8-9 NIV
I often consider why I’m receiving these enticements to sin and the motives behind the people who create them. Have you ever considered what is driving these people to do this? We know from 1 Peter 5 that the devil is behind all this trash, but real people are his instruments, creating these emails.
I’m saddened by their total rejection of the Almighty God, who gave them life and permitted them the choice of accepting or rejecting Him. While we might sit in righteous judgment, we should take pause and consider whether they’ve been introduced to Jesus Christ. How might their lives be different if they had!
While I’m only one click away from disaster, the writers of such debased web-content are only one step away from getting to know Jesus. They are only one turn of the dial away from listening to God’s Word being explained by someone like Chuck on the radio, or one knock on the door for an evangelizing Christian. A listener briefly shared their story some time ago.
“l was lost for many years. One day while at work (4.30am) l was flicking though the radio stations and come across Chuck. Well that was it for me; 4 years and still loving the LORD and all His ways. l would never look back again, Thanks Insight”
In our 2010 survey, 52% of listeners said they came across Chuck’s program by accident, either by channel surfing on their radio or on the Internet. This information only goes to confirm that each of us is just one click away from glory… or disaster. And the scary thing is that it is so easy.
So, what do we learn from this?
Firstly, be careful as you step into cyber space. Each of us has heard time and again of the pitfalls that lie waiting for those who are careless in their approach to the Internet. This also applies to other technologies, relationships and matters of integrity. One undisciplined decision can have a long lasting consequence, but as you call upon the Lord, His strength will keep you sure-footed.
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.” 2 Samuel 22:33-34 NIV
Secondly, the good news is that failures aren’t final. Our God of mercy and grace is always willing to welcome you back to the fold. Even the people who develop the rubbish we are confronted with each day are God’s creation, and it’s His desire that they turn from their wicked ways and return to Him.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Over the coming months Fred and I will walk the journey together as he tries to restore his relationship with the Lord and his wife and family. I saw Fred when he was baptized, and I witnessed the highs of his newfound faith. Now, I’m walking the lowest point in his life. Thankfully God’s grace is there for him and he will be restored should he continue on the path he’s begun. His family’s relationship will take longer.
Please stop for a moment and say a prayer for Fred and anyone you know who’s in the same predicament. And be careful yourself. May the Lord guide your every step and may He endow you with Godly discernment.