The list of commandments in Deuteronomy tells us to have no other gods, not to worship idols, not to take God’s name in vain, to keep the Sabbath, to honour our parents, not to murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or to covet our neighbour’s property.
Jesus said that the essence of these 10 commandments could be expressed in two – ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.
The word Jesus uses to describe the love we should feel towards others is agape. Agape is deep concern for the happiness and well-being of another; it seeks to give and not to get. It doesn’t seek to satisfy our need, but the need of the person we love.
How do these principles translate into our online existence?
The online environment can be highly combative. We compete for attention, followers and page hits to prove our worth. It can be tempting to create controversy simply to be noticed, or to attack people who hurt our feelings by ignoring our contribution.
But just as God’s agape for us is undeserved and unconditional, we must try to cultivate agape for others – even people who actively set out to make us angry, or belittle us or score points off us.
It may be impossible to turn our negative feelings and reactions into agape all at once, but being online doesn’t let us off the obligation Jesus placed on us to love the people nearest to us in his name – even if we have to work on it.