By Elizabeth Prata
When the persecution under Nero began in AD 64, the Christians scattered. The Church at Jerusalem had grown mightily these first years. Remember in Acts when 3000 were converted under Peter that first day, and many more were converted since, stayed. The church at Jerusalem was so large, that complaints were starting that the Greek Christians were marginalized at the food distribution in favor of the Israelite Christians, so the Church selected 7 men to oversee it.
When the great fire broke out, Nero the Emperor blamed the Christians. His persecution of them became direct and cruelly evil, devising new ways to torture them. Life in Israel was ever more tenuous, so they scattered to Asia and other distant parts.
This is known as a diaspora. Diaspora means scattered. Diaspora technically is used to mainly describe the Jews that have been scattered outside of Israel over the centuries, notably when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Israel and carried off the Jews as prisoners, and also when Alexander the Great invaded and many Jews departed.
The Christian scattering is mentioned in John 7:35, in Acts 8:1-4, and Acts 11:19. When the Christians scattered, they took with them the Gospel, which they shared far and wide. In this way, Christianity grew. Every time something seemingly “bad” happens, the Lord means for “good” as stated in the example of Joseph’s life. (Genesis 50:20).
An amazing event occurred in January of this year. When the time neared for President Trump to hand over the reins of the Presidency to Joe Biden, the pent-up hatred of the man was released as if chunks of meat were thrown to hungry alligators. It became a frenzy of outrage against him, anyone who stood with him, and by extension (like Nero) Christians. Conservative and Christian websites, social media accounts, and other hated outlets were shut down, banned, or marginalized. Tech Oligarchs took it upon themselves to shut down the voice of people calling for all the things God wants in a society, like right to life, measured and responsible spending, care for one another, etc, and mainly anything biblical, Jesus-oriented, or Godly. Even mentioning that there was no such thing as transgender got you banned immediately. Whole Ministries were shut down, blinked out as fast as flipping a switch.
It all happened fast, relentlessly, and with no mercy.
My own Twitter account shrunk by about a thousand, accounts were suddenly gone. The cozy feel of chatting happily with fellow believers evaporated. The illusion of the free speech we thought we had was stripped away to reveal underneath its veneer maggots on rotting meat, crawling hatred for us so deep it was almost palatable vibrating out from our screens.
As the hammer came down and the chips flew, people dispersed for other social media sites. There were several to choose from. Some went here, others went there. I’m waiting to see where everyone settles out.
But a good thing happened. The purge from social media that the Tech Oligarchs performed and its resultant dispersion, cured me of my interest in social media. I am always mindful of not spending too much time on it, as Tony Reinke’s book 12 Ways your Phone is Changing You and Michael John Beasley’s book Internet Inferno: A Contemporary Warning and Reminder Regarding this Ancient Truth – “The Tongue is a Fire, the Very World of Iniquity, and is Set on Fire by Hell” James 3:6 warned me.
Still, I was spending more time on it than I desired. I wanted to read some books I was not getting to. I have a new cat to spend time with. The weather will warm up soon and I want to get outside to the Parks and walk. And hopefully as COVID dies out our church will resume fellowship dinners and Sunday School and home groups. (Thankfully we are meeting together for Sunday services in real life). I’ll want to be busy in real life with my church family. So…
…the ‘tech dispersion’ was a good thing for me. I’ve lost my taste for it. I post my scripture every day and a link to my blog that has more scripture and theology. I miss my friends online, and they are friends, but I am loathe to give the Tech Oligarchs any of my attention, money, time, or energy using their platforms.
That’s where I’m at right now, in trying to make sense of what is happening in America, in my world, in my heart. It’s all so confusing and sudden and changing so fast. But through it all, I know the LORD has a plan. He means things for our good. He is holy, but He is our friend. He is up there, but also down here. He is in heaven but coming soon. It’s all good.
Lynne Brown at Utterly Astounded, hosted Pastor Ekkie Tepsupornchai on the topic of Technology and Censorship. The summary of the episode is “Ekkie has a background in the field of computer science and engineering. His insight into the workings of “big tech” and their suppression of dissenting voices and his practical advice on how to prepare for the future will equip and encourage you.”
I listened and found the information about how to prepare for marginalization (we’re experiencing now) and likely upcoming censorship from a wider array of platforms than we’re experiencing now, to be solidly biblical and eminently practical. Perhaps you will enjoy this timely podcast, too. Technology and Censorship.