I remember when I first came on line back in the early 90's via AOL, the heady rush of being able to be anyone. Young and willing to fight anyone on a topic I cared about, I lied. I made up a whole story about my past that wasn't so I could win. I won... and lost. The scar of that fabrication stayed. It haunted.
How we treat those who can do nothing to us, nothing for us, and who have no way to respond, those are the people who pierce the veil and reveal to the world whether we are kinder or far uglier than the faces we wish to show. I dropped offline for a time, to get my head straight about everything, and when I returned, I stayed away from chat rooms.
Years later, a friend wrote a piece about how good cannot be created by evil means and his cautionary line, “Truth does not need me to lie,” reminded me of that moment. I recognized, I'd fallen then, because I valued winning more than truth. I’d been like Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring, thinking, if my cause is just, it makes the means by which I pursue it, justified. It’s not true. It will never be true. It cannot be true, because we cannot via our will, bring about good through evil.
It’s an easy trap to fall into for a whole host of reasons; my cause is just, my heart is in the right place. It’s an easy temptation, and the forms it takes are legion but it all comes down to truth. We think, “Surely, it is not I, Lord.” When we are warm and well fed and in the upper room with no one coming at us, either in real life or on the internet. However, when someone says, “You were with Him.” By calling us out on abortion or birth control or same sex marriage, we might feel very much like Peter in that moment by the charcoal fire, and want to find some means of sidestepping whatever the issue might be. We’d like to be safe, secure, and guaranteed a good outcome. We are, but not here, and not by any means we here possess independent of God.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and does not need me or anyone else to lie. He calls each of us to witness, to remain true, and be not afraid of giving that testimony when the opportunity arises. On the internet, who we are is never known by the pretty words or prettier pictures we post. What allows us to know what is and what isn't, is revealed over time, when we’re willing to lose everything else but whatever that one thing is. God’s grace be given and received, for each of us in all our battles, both online and in real life, that one thing we’ll hold fast to is the Person who willed Himself to remain nailed to the cross.