So often it is only the dark side of the internet that we hear about in the news; I woke this morning to hear that it was going to become illegal to post inappropriate pictures of ex-partners online, earlier in the week I woke to hear it was internet safety day with talk of trolls and cyber-bullies. Like all aspects of human life, the internet has been affected by our fallen human nature. Today, however, I want to bring some balance into this portrayal, not to dismiss this side of the story, but to show that God’s image as placed in human beings, can still be seen here too.
There are some Christians I know who find the internet to be a worrying creation, the work of the evil one no less (a bit like the M25 on a bad day?) and avoid it like the plague, but I must confess that I don’t see it that way. Yes, I have a definite geeky side to my make up that revels in such things, but isn’t it such an amazing creation? It has revolutionised our lives in so many ways. We can communicate across the globe instantly through email, we can find almost any piece of information we want on the web and it is so much easier to find relationships with likeminded people than ever before, be that in niche hobbies or internet dating. Yes this can be abused, but it can also be wonderful. The work of the Sierra Leone Mission was transformed by email – no longer did we have to wait a month to hear back on every question that we asked but we would have news in a couple of days. Doing my recent studies I was able to have access to all sorts of information online that would have taken me months of digging around in libraries (still something I love) to find, and I have friends who have found marriage partners online and I have formed all sorts of friendships around the world through it. The creativity behind its invention and the myriad ways in which it has improved our lives is surely points to God’s image and handiwork through people.
Two other phenomena come to mind as well. Did you hear the story of the Katie Cutler who set out to raise £500 when she heard about disabled mugging victim Alan Barnes. She’d heard his story and put out an appeal online and was overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers her total in the end reaching more than £300,000. Millions upon millions of pounds are raised online each year for good causes. This is worth celebrating. Then there is Kickstarter, the online platform for raising money to fund various creative projects – a bit like artists having patrons in the past. A quite common phenomena on Kickstarter is the concept of kicking it forward; when the target that someone is seeking is reached and overtaking, quite often they pledge to plough back into other artists’ kickstarters some of the profit rather than keeping it for themselves.
This last concept, kicking it forward, is one that especially relates to scripture I feel where we are told again and again as recipients of God’s grace and forgiveness and love and provision to take what we have been given and kick it forward, passing it on to others in our lives whether they be friend or strangers. Sometimes the wider world can challenge us by its example as it demonstrates God’s image to us. How can we kick forward for God this week?
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