The Christian in Modern Times
Technology, particularly computers and the internet, have drastically changed the way we live. Only fifty years ago, people couldn’t have possibly imagined the kind of world we have now. The advents of PCs, emails, websites, and blogging and social media platforms (and for sure, the advent also of smartphones) have made the world a much smaller place. People from many countries can now easily communicate with each other, and work on projects together. Local businesses now have employees in other parts of the world. And while technology does give a lot of power to anyone, especially the power to express oneself, it is power that is, sadly, easily abused. Nowadays, a virtually unknown person can make a name for himself (and a lot of money) in Facebook or YouTube, if he is interesting or controversial enough, or perhaps destroy another person’s reputation and career in his blistering tweets. Meanwhile, the companies behind these platforms are having a field day, using their users’ data to further their own purposes.
Even the Christian Church has become electronic. Many churches and ministries now have their own websites or Facebook Pages. Many are streaming live their services. And even those that don’t, they have at least PowerPoint presentations to complement their preaching and worship. In itself, there is nothing wrong in using technology in the church; however, too much dependence on it does change the way Christians relate to each other and to their God. For example, in some churches, Facebook Messenger is being heavily used to disciple members, and that is definitely bad. Besides having that great potential for misunderstanding, such a rather impersonal way of connecting with people can never replace a relationship born from face-to-face communication.
The question now arises, How does the Christian deal with all these technological changes that are happening not only in the world at large, but also in the Church? These changes are inevitable, unavoidable, even beneficial, but they do have some nasty side effects.
Here at TukuToi we’re starting a new series of articles that will explore what it means to be a person of faith in this modern and electronic world, with a focus on the internet and computer technologies. By “a person of faith” we mean a Bible-believing Christian, one who truly believes it to be the Word of God. (This distinction has to be made, because not all who call themselves Christian actually believe in the Bible.) We feel that this kind of exploration can be good starting points for healthy discussions, and this post is meant to introduce you to the series.
What Is Faith?
The most important matter to discuss first is, of course, the answer to the question, What does it mean to have faith? The concept of faith is encapsulated by this passage in the Bible: “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. For by this, the elders obtained approval. By faith we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3 WEB, emphasis mine).
For the Christian, to have faith in God means believing in his Word, the Bible, because it is God’s revelation of himself and of his plans for the world and mankind. And of course, to believe in the Bible means to obey its commandments and precepts, especially on how to live one’s life.
Yes, there are many questions about the veracity of the Bible, but we won’t concern ourselves with such questions. To some extent, because it can never be fully proven rationally and empirically, believing in the Bible is itself an act of faith. However, for the Christian who knows his God and his Word, there can be no doubt, because the way for believers has always been “to believe is to see (or understand),” and not “to see (or understand) is to believe.” That is, his own life experiences confirm the pages of the Scriptures.
And so that will be our premise in this series: To be a person of faith is to believe in the Bible and to live according to it. The technological world may be changing in ways we don’t like – becoming indifferent, cruel, and evil more and more – but the Christian is still called to live according to the standards of the Bible. And yes, the Bible does use antiquated words and imagery, and some may argue that it is no longer relevant to our modern times because of that. Nevertheless, despite being written in antiquity, the Bible’s principles and precepts are unchanging and always relevant, because it comes from the mind of an eternal God.
The Ideal and the Real
It is a real challenge, isn’t it? Living out this premise? The standards for godly living that are set out in the Bible are perfect and uncompromising. The injunctions against lust and sexual immorality, for example, or the command to pray for and love our enemies both seem impossible to follow. How can a Christian guard against lust, when the web, television, and movies are filled with images that are designed to inflame that lust? Or how can a Christian guard against hate for his enemies, when bashing comments in Facebook or Twitter are only clicks away?
Furthermore, much of the world itself is against the Judeo-Christian God and his Word. The very name of Jesus Christ is a curse, biblical values are being mocked, and there are even those who are actively persecuting Christians for their beliefs. And technology is no help at all in this area. Unless a Christian water-downs his message and talks only about the good things that people want to hear, or unless he keeps his head down and be nice to everybody to avoid controversies, he will likely find his websites under attack or his social media accounts blocked. Worse, he may even lose his job because his boss doesn’t like his tweets.
This series of articles that we are starting will take all these into account, because we are dealing with not only the ideal — to believe in the Bible and to live according to it — but also with the real. We are recognizing the fact that, even though the Bible has said its piece on a certain issue, following what it says is altogether a different matter. Theologically, because of man’s fallen state, living out the Word of God — especially in the midst of oppositions — can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in the believer. But let’s face it, even with that power inside him, the Christian is often beset with sin that he lives in failure and compromise instead of in victory.
And although it may not sound like it, this series is geared towards everyone, not just Christians. Whether or not you share the Christian faith, we all need some improvements in our lives, and what better model is there for good behavior and good living than the pages of the Scriptures? The world is in the grip of rapid technological advancement, bringing with it not only the good things, but also the bad. There is probably nothing we can do about those bad things — for sure, we cannot stop other people from being spiteful and vile in social media — but we can still contribute in our own little ways, and make this world a better place.