CC Issue 32 / Reflections / Theology / Faith

God in a Box

I’ve spent the last few weeks in front of a computer. This is not my natural habitat, but for the past month,  a recent project has required me to spend my days with my bleary eyes fixed on something that doesn’t actually exist.

The internet is far from a big part of my life. I don’t have a smartphone, or a computer, or an iPad. My phone just about sends texts. I have an email account which I use, but really that’s about it.

These last few weeks, I’ve had constant internet access, so I’ve flicked around. Worship music, sermons, church websites, iBethel TV, podcasts, vodcasts, viddycasts, global chat rooms. It’s bulging from the seams. As with any other subculture in 2012, you can get whatever you want at the click of a mouse. Last week’s Sunday sermon from a church in the middle of Texas. The latest worship song out of West London.

And it’s great. What a joy to see what’s happening across the world. What God’s doing. What believers are thinking. How people are expressing their praise and their hearts. It’s been a wonderful thing.

But it’s not enough. In fact, I wonder if it breeds isolation. If you watch your church’s Sunday sermon online, you don’t ever need to go. You don’t ever need to leave your house. In fact, you don’t ever need to stand up.

There is more worship, testimony and bible discussion online than you could possibly consume in a lifetime. As you watch a service on iBethel TV, it tells you how many people are watching with you, around the world. You become part of a global community, worshipping God in their sitting rooms, from Dallas to Dudley.

Except, to be honest, you don’t.

You don’t become part of anything real. You don’t become part of any kind of community in  which we can really love each other, or be accountable or speak truth in love. If we don’t actually, physically spend time with other people, it’s a lot harder to grow. The Bible says that when we live in community, it’s like iron sharpening iron. We rub the rough edges off each other, and see each other gradually redeemed.

And what’s more, if we’re only ever Christians in our sitting rooms, we never go. We are called to go, so many times in the Bible. To go to the nations, to the lost, to the poor, to the broken, to widows, to orphans. We are called to go and bring good news. The problem with a world so full of easy-to-access Christian media is that there’s no longer any need to go.

So why don’t we?

Log off from this blog. Switch off the sermon you’re listening to by Tim Keller. Yes, it’s brilliant, yes, he’s a genius, but who knows… If you went outside and had a conversation with the homeless man you’ve never noticed who’s sitting at the end of your street, just maybe you’d see even more of God.
And as you go, all of the needs you’ve been trying to fill by worshipping with Joel Houston on Youtube in your bedroom will be met by a loving Father who sees your obedience.

That’s a promise.

Isaiah 58

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