When you get right down to it, what is the Internet? In its raw, unadorned, plain-and-simple, purpose-defined essence, what is it? No, it’s not the Antichrist, a modern-day bogeyman, or the Orwellian Big Brother. What is it? At the risk of oversimplification, the Internet is a means of communication. Now, admitting that Jesus’ Great Command—to make disciples—is applicable to all Christians, how does this command apply to our activity on the Internet, this amazing means of communication?
If you’re reading this article…
you’re using the web. Have you ever thought about how you use the Web? With its bazillion different usages, it could be that you do everything from online banking to ordering movies. When you think about the Great Commission, how are you applying it to your life? For reminders, here is what the Great Commission says:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Great Commission applies to our activity on the Internet just as it does to our daily interaction with unbelievers, our mission trips to Mexico, and our witnessing to a nonbelieving neighbor. So, how do we combine the Great Commission and the Web?
Maintaining a Good Testimony
In this week’s edition of Time magazine (May 31, 2010), the cover features a huge mosaic of Facebook profile pics with the word “Facebook” in its familiar white-on-blue logo printed atop the pictures. The title reads, “Facebook…and how it’s redefining privacy. With nearly 500 million users, Facebook is connecting us in new (and scary) ways.” The title is a bit on the fear-inducing side, as is the story itself. As the author goes on to say, “There’s something unsettling about granting the world a front-row seat to all of our interests.”
If you’re among the 500 million Facebookers, like it or not, you’re displaying to the world a persona. Sure, you’ve created it yourself, selectively retained or published favored bits of information, and even ratcheted down your privacy settings, but your testimony remains visible to at least some people. What’s it like?
The Internet is a lot like driving. It can draw the worst out of people. When I first dipped a wary toe into the waters of Facebook, I was aghast some of things that a few of my Facebook friends were sharing. I had never known these friends like I thought I did, and when I checked out their “interests,” read their comments, checked out their pictures, and saw the groups that they were part of, I started wishing I didn’t know their online persona.
My point here is not to level an accusing finger at Facebook. You can take it or leave it. What I am emphasizing is that you have a testimony on the Internet. You can blow it, or you can employ it for Great Commission purposes. When you comment on blogs, review an Amazon purchase, tweet, update your FB status, or “like” a group on FB, how does it detract or enhance your Great Commission efforts? The stewardship of your testimony is more important today than it ever has been, because global visibility is way easier. That can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. It all depends on how well you integrate the Great Commission to your online testimony.
Sharing the Good News
The Internet isn’t just about maintaining a good testimony. It’s also about sharing the good news as the title of this post suggest. Keep in mind that the Internet is a means of communication. As such, the Internet is a means of communication for the Good News of Jesus Christ. The application of Great Commission living to the world of the Internet is probably obvious enough, but it bears some repetition.
Great Commission + Internet = building relationships with disciple-making in view.
Your activity on the Internet is a barometer of your obedience to the Great Commission. That statement isn’t an attempt to make you feel guilty. That statement is an attempt to encourage you to view the Internet as a disciple-making forum. If the Internet is a means of communication, and if we should communicate Christ (2 Cor. 2:17), then we ought to communicate Christ even on the Internet.
How do you do it? Use your web-savvy to start a blog. Blog your faith. Furnish Facebook friends with Scripture verses and Christ-focused quotations. Post links to gospel information. Be unafraid of sharing the Good News over email. People are reading things on the Internet much more than they are reading gospel tracts—pieces of paper with gospel literature printed on them. While there is nothing wrong with giving people tracts (many people have met Jesus in this way), realize also that there are a lot of people reading stuff online, too.
Please realize that Great Commission disciple-making is not about spamming your address book with a printed sermon or unleashing a 24/7 Twitter storm of Scripture verses. Keep in mind, rather, that online evangelizing is like any other form of evangelizing. It’s about forming relationships that are gospel-focused, and God-glorifying.