(Image by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries)
Int'l (MNN) -- The internet is a battlefield. The question is: what kind of warrior are you? Who are you fighting for?
Do you think we're being dramatic?
We spoke with Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
about the danger and opportunity that skip alongside the internet.
The internet to support a cause
Hutchcraft says, "There are some people right now who are very effectively using the internet. They are recruiting young men from around the world, they are inspiring them to take action that they never thought they would take--to leave where they are and be a part of the army that they are building. They're doing it so successfully, and their name is ISIS."
Through their use of social media, Hutchcraft says, "They are experiencing unbelievable growth with an agenda that is butchery and fanaticism and barbaric atrocities."
It's important to understand (and not underestimate) the power of the internet and social media to drive a cause like that of ISIS forward. Christians should take note of this.
"If you do it well, you can get the attention and capture the hearts of people for a cause," Hutchcraft says, "Well, hello! We represent the greatest cause on the planet. In Christ we have the hope that the world is looking for, we have the love the world is looking for."
Hutchcraft reminds us that Jesus said before the end of the world there would be an explosion of wickedness and an explosion of the spread of the Gospel.
"Sin always fascinates you, and then…"
The internet has certainly played a role in both of these things as it interconnects people in a way that's never been possible before.
While it is very obviously a tool for ISIS more recently, the power of the internet to draw people into darkness is not a new concept.
Hutchcraft says just look: "The internet today is doing everything from recruiting terrorists to getting pornography slaves."
Since its birth, the internet has successfully drawn men and women into sexual sin. It has glorified a twisted version of God's creation and honored the pursuit of sin of all kinds.
Hutchcraft says people often slip into enslavement to these things rather innocently. Other times, it's a small decision made on a slippery slope that captures the attention and devotion of an internet user.
"Sin always fascinates you, and then it assassinates you," Hutchcraft says.
Where do you fit in?
The responsibility of a follower of Christ is really a two-sided coin. For starters, they have to protect themselves. "We really need to be very careful because the internet is loaded with ambushes," Hutchcraft says.
As with any battle, Christians need to have defensive tactics. And they need have an offensive plan, as well.
The other side of the coin--the offense--is proactivity in presenting the Gospel through the internet so that it is in reach of all people around the world. This is done through social media, Web sites, blogs, and videos.
Hutchcraft says no soldier is better equipped for this task than millennials who have a heart for Christ. Not only are they burdened for lost people, but they grasp the culture and know how to reach people.
Christians do need to be careful how they approach this task, says Hutchcraft. "Facebook is not a preaching medium. It's a networking, friendship-building medium. But you can, on occasion, give a personal story of how Jesus has made the difference for you."
Hutchcraft says to pray for opportunities to turn people's attention to Jesus through Facebook and other internet sites.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, for example, uses its blogs to share stories of hope. Check out examples here at On Eagles' Wings
and A New Story
Stories have the power of connecting people who would otherwise never have anything in common.
Hutchcraft says through whatever media is used, there is a responsibility to make the content compelling, respectful, gentle, and true, following the pattern set out in 1 Peter 3:15.
Intentionality on the internet is very important and something that perhaps most users are without.
It starts in prayer, as Hutchcraft explains: "It really is an important thing we should be praying for. If we are going to represent Christ, as we must because all of us who are involved in any way on the internet, whether it's e-mail or YouTube or Facebook or whatever, we all have been given a platform to do whatever we want to do with."
1 Peter 3:15 calls us to be ready to share our reason for hope. What better way to honor Christ and be gentle with our audience than to share our own story?
"One thing people will listen to is your personal hope story that tells how what Christ deid on the cross made all the difference for you as a dad or a mom or a friend or cancer patient or a single person or a lonely person or a depressed person or an addicted person.
"You're the living proof that Christ can change what nobody else could've changed, that as God gives opportunity, you pray that God will open a door and then open your mouth to use these tools for him," Hutchcraft says.
A prayer for all of us
The following is an excerpt of Hutchcraft's prayer for followers of Christ.
"We pray that You would give us, first of all, discernment so that we do not under any circumstances ever allow […] sin to take hold in our lives, please, through these powerful media.
"But by the same token, Lord, we pray that You'd put in our hearts a desire to capture the potential of this, for we will not forfeit these powerful platforms to the enemy. If we don't show up with Jesus, we have forfeited, and we will not forfeit this battle.
"For the One who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. So would You give us a vision, give us an approach, give us the love, give us the burden, give us the wisdom, and give us the courage to use these media skillfully, gently, respectfully, lovingly, to share our Jesus with our world."