Some time ago, I confessed a sad television habit that was taking up too much of my valuable time. As I said in that article, I deleted my DVR scheduling and quit watching too much Law and Order. Not long after that, we actually got rid of cable all together. I should be the most efficient time manager of all now that I got rid of my cable, right? Sadly, we learn once again that nature abhors a vacuum. In true Matthew 12:43-45 fashion, the evil television spirit has gotten seven other spirits to attack and the last state might well be worse than the first. However, these spirits are called The Internet. (Please know that I’m speaking tongue in cheek about the spirits.)
The Internet is great. I can keep up with old friends. I can communicate with new friends. I can chat with brethren from all over. I can conduct Bible studies across continents. I can answer most questions with a click of a button. Want to know who was the 16th President? If you don’t already know, the Internet will provide an answer. Bible study is cheap and easy on the Internet. Podcasts of the preaching of God’s word abounds. Blogs with great inspiration, deep education, and powerful instruction can be found in plenty. The Internet is a veritable treasure trove.
However, if we’re not careful the Internet can suck us in to the swirling black vortex of virtual non-reality. It can drain our days of precious time. Paul said we should look carefully how we walk. If not, we might end up walking like fools. Instead, we need to make the most of our time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). I believe that is a reference back to Ecclesiastes 9:11-12, which claims we are all like the fish taken in an evil net or the bird trapped in a snare. Death and destruction come suddenly, therefore, we need to take this moment very seriously. Am I using it wisely?
When I get on the World Wide Web, I need to ask myself how I’m using my time. I am reminded that anything I do for 30 minutes every day equals more than a week of my year. Over a lifespan of 80 years, that will be more than a year and a half.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying every second of every day must be spent in some all-wise, life-changing, earth-shattering pursuit. We are allowed entertainment and relaxation. However, I sometimes fear that I’m entertaining and relaxing my life away without realizing it. A 5-minute break to check Facebook, can easily become an hour long look at endless status updates, searching for new friends, writing updates, sending messages, and playing games. And that can be after already checking Facebook three times that day. Hopping online to search for a book price can easily become an hour surfing Amazon for different products, reading their reviews and profiles. They put those “other people also bought” links up for a reason. They want to tangle us in the Web. Making a brief point in a religious forum can easily turn into an obsession for the rest of the day seeing if anyone responded, did they agree? disagree? care? Even the most innocent and noble pursuits can become a labyrinth, trapping us and endangering us.
There are plenty of great things to be done on the Internet. As soon as I’m done typing this article, I’ll spend some time on the Internet posting it for people to read on the church’s blog. But, we need to remember that God wants us to do more than surf and read. We need to get out and go. We need to spend most of our time in the real world, talking to real people, accomplishing real acts of service, performing real good works (Titus 2:14; Ephesians 2:10).
I’m not saying we should get rid of the Internet completely. However, I think we should all, no matter what our job, take a look at our Internet time and hold it alongside Ephesians 5:15-17. Are we keeping our Internet time in its proper perspective or letting it get out of control?