Glass Houses and Broken WindowsBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Many of us don't think much about communicating on the Internet. When we fire off an email, leave a comment, or post an update, we leave a trail. Our words are there for all to see. And with Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, communication has never been faster.
Communication online is like living in a glass house, except we have more power to create the person others see. Some fabricate an identity, and others choose to be authentic. Whatever your internet persona, when others meet us in real life, they'll expect us to be the same person they met on their computer. That's why conducting ourselves with authenticity is so important online and off.
The apostle Paul did not have the luxury of sending emails or blogging the gospel (I'm sure he would have if given the opportunity), but he knew the importance of presenting himself with integrity and consistency. In one letter he told the Corinthians,
"Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God" (2 Cor. 4: 1-2, The Message).
Paul lived what he wrote. Though others accused him of being inconsistent, he preached the same gospel in his letters as he did in person. More than that, he tried to be the same person on paper as he was in person.
"What's this talk about me bullying you with my letters? 'His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he's a weakling and mumbles when he talks.' Such talk won't survive scrutiny. What we write when away, we do when present. We're the exact same people, absent or present, in letter or in person" (2 Cor. 10:8-11, The Message).
Paul lived in a glass house and knew people had their noses pressed to the window, watching and scrutinizing his every word and deed. He knew the importance of integrity in sharing the gospel and how it needed to match up to his life. He knew inconsistency in his life would discredit his reputation and hurt the advancement of the gospel.
We shouldn't expect our internet activities to be as significant as Paul's, but we still need to present ourselves with authenticity, void of exaggerations and deceit. This is not a call for exhibitionism. I'm not advocating airing our dirty laundry but rather representing and conducting ourselves with truth and honor. We should follow Paul's example whether we're emailing coworkers, blogging about Jesus, or twittering about our lives.
Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, has a similar admonishment for those in the publishing field. "People are not going to get away with embellishing the facts much longer. It's just too easy to validate the claims. So how do you survive in this brave new world of total transparency? Simple. Tell the truth." He offers some wise words and tips for living in a transparent world, and his advice applies to anyone doing business via the Internet.
Jesus preached the same message. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Even though Paul's glass house didn't encompass the World Wide Web, we can learn from his wisdom. Integrity and consistency should be the cornerstone of any business, whether professional or personal, on the Internet or in person. There's no going back. Globalization and the Internet have put us all in glass houses. People are watching us. If they don't like what they see or feel they've been deceived, they aren't afraid to break windows.