“Is God in Cyberspace?”
Tom Friedman says that’s the best question he’s ever received on a book tour. He didn’t have a ready answer – it sent him thinking, pondering, asking other people. A good question deserves the respect of patience, wrestling, and consideration. Friedman could have given an impromptu answer. Instead, he queried others.
He posed the question to his spiritual advisor, Rabbi Tzvi Marx. Rabbi Marx responded with “That depends on your view of God.” If God is the almighty who smites evil and rewards good, then no, because all kinds of evil resides on the internet. Marx went on to say that this is the “biblical” view of God – God is always interfering, rewarding, punishing. But Marx says that if we have a post-biblical view of God, then we understand that God is present only by our own actions. This post-biblical view, in Marx’ understanding, is that God is always hidden, so to have God be in the room, you must bring God there yourself. This is the price of human freedom.
“Unless we bear witness to God’s presence by our own good deeds, He is not present. Unless we behave as though He were running things, He isn’t running things.” Tzvi Marx
In other words, God is only in Cyber-space if we bring Him there.
On one level that sounds right.
On another level, I want to throw my hands up in despair, turn on the black light, and listen to Pink Floyd.
In Rabbi Marx’ view, the onus is on us. Nothing’s going to happen unless we make it so. We have immense responsibility. Get busy, but be careful, for disaster lies but a misstep away
Perhaps that works for some, but for me, that way lies madness. That is the path of anxiety, burnout, and despair. Because no matter how much I do, it will never be enough.
But I believe that we are not left to our own devices. God very graciously works within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as our counselor, our teacher, our guide. The Holy Spirit whispers in the crannies of our mind, nudges our conscience, awakens our awe, and leads us step by step through life.
I deal with the idea of the Holy Spirit in a few earlier posts:
- The Holy Spirit gives us gifts for particular service.
- The Holy Spirit works in us even when we are burned out and dry.
- Christian Spirituality involves listening to the Holy Spirit.
But make no mistake, God is much bigger than simply the Holy Spirit working in us. God upholds the laws of physics; God keeps atoms cohering together; God establishes the math that underpins the algorithms that enable cyberspace to be such a potent force in the first place.
Does this make us puppets? No. We are persons with wills and feelings and souls.
But we are small and we don’t see how our freedom and God’s omnipotence co-exist.
Dare we admit that our little minds are just too small?
Dare we confess that there are mysteries beyond our ken?
Yes, God is in cyberspace. And God is within us.
God takes joy in our using the unique gifts he’s given us to contribute to His work: blessing, encouraging, combatting evil, helping others flourish. As Paul says to the church in Ephesus: “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God’s work doesn’t depend on you. Rather it is Gods delight to have you on the team.
And that makes all the difference.
So, to close, here’s a few questions. If we’re God’s instruments in cyberspace, then how do you use cyberspace to bless, to encourage, to build? How do you use social media to extend love? How do you make use of the technologies available to us to invite others to follow Jesus and to show the goodness of His kingdom?
Comments are open!
(See the first article in the series and the index to other posts on Friedmans’s Thank You For Being Late)
5 thoughts on “Is God In Cyberspace? (Reflections on Tom Friedman’s “Thank You For Being Late”)”
Pingback: Book Review: Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman – Horizons of the Possible
“God’s work doesn’t depend on you. Rather it is Gods delight to have you on the team.”
Thanks, Bryan. Hope you enjoyed that Fincher’s BBQ. I am quite jealous.
Great post, and couldn’t agree more, Russell. Praise God we are not left to our own devices. He is working in us, growing us into our best selves, and he is working through us to bless others, encourage them, combat evil, and help others flourish, just as you’ve said. What greater honor could God bestow? And nothing is more satisfying or fulfilling!
It’s difficult to find well-informed people about this topic,
but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!