You really can’t relegate danger to a “zone” online. An alarm won’t go off if you get too close to a danger zone, nor will a crossing guard wave you through when the coast is clear. Danger is everywhere because we live on a broken planet.
While your message as a follower of Christ is grace, hope, and healing, there’s a power that works equally hard online (and off-line) to cancel out your message by generating a perpetual flow of despair, hate, and evil.
If you set out on a mission trip into the depths of Papua New Guinea, you’d face scorpions, tigers, cholera, and people with spears who want to eat you. The mission field at your fingertips isn’t so different. There’s all of that and then some, metaphorically speaking.
The Internet is the most powerful gateway to learning and profit that the world has ever seen, it’s also heaving with darkness. So culture goes: What God creates for good, the enemy twists for his own evil purposes. You know the threats: pornography, infidelity, obscenity, theft, scams, slander, bullying, digital viruses, discrimination of every kind, cybercrime, physical violence, and even terrorism. All of this is no longer on the seedy, other side of town but just a few clicks away — in the cyber slums of the online city.
Excessive Internet use can weaken family bonds, create and feed online addictions such as gambling and shopping, increase emotional distress, and inhibit healthy socialization skills. In the church this becomes an increasingly critical topic of discussion as leaders worry that online relationships will replace face-to-face discipleship and they respond to the fallout caused by online life.
How do you avoid the blatant dangers online and discern the more subtle ones?
You put on your armor. You get off the well-worn path between church and home. You get real about what’s going on in the culture around us and refuse to be marginalized. You go to war.
My brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against
flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:10–12, NKJV
Dangerous or not, as with any nefarious mission field, it’s time to log on and “go.”
What concerns you most about the dangers online?