Don’t Take Sunday Strolls Along the Highway
Wise words from Michael Horton:
Some Christians surf the net not only for vitamin supplements but for their meals. All of this makes sense in an evangelicalism that is already disposed toward treating the physical aspects of reality as merely “external” (like a coat you can put on or take off) in contrast to the inner realm of the Spirit. But as Christians we believe that the Word became flesh. We aren’t looking for out-of-body experiences, but for the God who still descends to us, binding us to his Son through such mundane matter as preaching, water, bread and wine. And like these means of grace, the communion of saints is also a tangible, earthly, embodied reality. They are my brothers and sisters: not ideas, resources, or bloggers. It’s a family dinner, not a drive-thru meal.
But does that mean that there’s no place for the web? Not at all, as long as we know its limits. I’m glad there are highways when I want to get downtown, but I don’t take Sunday strolls along it.
Imagine concentric circles. At the widest, you have the rapid exchange of ideas and information. Of course, there’s nothing better than the Internet for that one. I often go to Wikipedia for quick data on a person or date in history, but I’d never allow my students to cite Wikipedia as a source in their research papers. That’s because a research paper is more than information.
The next ring in on my concentric circles is for informal get-togethers with brothers and sisters in Christ, including conferences.
But the bulls-eye is the Lord’s Day gathering of the covenant family, beneath the pulpit, at the font, and at the table.
All of this reminds me of that stanza in T. S. Eliot’s “The Rock”:
“Where is all the wisdom we have lost in knowledge and all the knowledge we have lost in information?”
Information is good. Resources can set us on a wonderfully new track. But what we’ll always need most—in spiritual as well as domestic terms—is a good bath, a good meal, and a good word from our Father, in his Son, by his Spirit. Nothing beats that.