The Internet and e-mail—isn’t modern technology wonderful? Just think, peck out a few words, click on “Send,” and someone half the world away reads your words. You can know people in other cultures and nations better than you know your next door neighbor.
But a price is paid for such amazing technology. There is SPAM. No, not the meat by-product produced by Hormel. SPAM is all that junk e-mail that clogs your in box of your e-mail rather than the mailbox approved by the United States Postal Service. Scams also run rampant on the Internet and in e-mail. Just think, how else can you get millions of people to forward an offer of free jeans or free trips to Disneyland except through the miracle of e-mail? Here’s a hint: if it seems suspicious, check out snopes.com. Then you’ll know whether to forward or delete that message you just received. Think about it—why would someone send an e-mail looking for a lost son when that person should be alerting the police and scouring the neighborhood? OK, the possibility exists that the little runaway got lost and ended up in Pakistan, but I doubt it.
But what really takes the cake are the e-mails with an inspiring story. Maybe it’s the person that bought a gallon of milk “for no reason, really.” A “voice” nags at the milk buyer, who drives down dark and dubious words to a building dark and eerie and, against all instincts, goes and finds a mother with several hungry children and no food to be found. Lucky he bought the milk.
Or my favorite, because I erred on sharing the e-mail (minus the “send this to 10 people if you really love God”). You may remember it—“The Room.” Mea culpa.
September 11 released a slew of such e-mails. One showed God busy running hither and yon protecting people from being part of the tragedy. One was entitled “In the Elevator.”
Not that there is anything wrong with the inspirational. A weakness is that the inspirational is meant to inspire you to perfection or to carry out some good deed. Rarely is the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection mentioned or that this death and resurrection assures us that our sins are paid for and forgiven. Let me make this suggestion: next time you get such an e-mail, try to edit it to give God the glory and let Christ shine through and forward THAT version.
What really gets my goat are the closing lines in such e-mails. You are asked to display your Christianity—and forwarding such a message, in the author’s opinion, is one grand display of your Christianity. Some go over the top with guilt trips. “Ever wonder how you can forward a risqué joke without giving it a second thought, but we’re too embarrassed to forward an e-mail about our Lord?” Some even play “Big Brother.” They ask that you send the e-mail back to the person who sent it! My, my, we can certainly keep an eye on each other, being our brother’s keepers as it suits us.
Paul once addressed people with a similar problem. No, Paul didn’t have e-mail in his day. What Paul did have were a group called the Judaizers. These people claimed that to be truly Christian one must follow the Mosaic Law as well as be baptized. Men were to be circumcised. All had to observe the feast days and dietary restrictions. “Show us you’re truly Christian by living like a Jew.”
But Paul simply said: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day.”
Add to that “or by whether you send along an e-mail or not.” God did give us Christian freedom. And sometimes it’s better to keep the e-mails and maintain personal contact away from a PC with others near you.
If you love God, feel free to delete this e-mail, share it with someone you do want to share it with, or keep it in archive. Whatever you do, you are still a redeemed child of God and no action you do will change that fact.