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How to avoid Malware Monday

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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screen grab from the DNS Change Working Group malware detection page (Credit: Denison Forum)

The fact that you can read this morning’s essay means that you’ve avoided Malware Monday.  Last year, international hackers ran an online advertising scam that seized control of more than 570,000 computers around the world.  The malware they implanted required the machines to use their servers to access the Internet.  When the FBI shut them down, authorities installed servers that set up a temporary Internet system for the computers afflicted by the hackers.  However, that system was closed this morning at 12:01 AM EDT.  Any machine using the FBI’s servers has lost access to the Internet.

No one knows exactly how many machines are affected.  As of last week, some 245,000 computers were thought to be still infected with the virus, including 45,355 U.S. machines.  Online security firms, Facebook, and the FBI are offering free diagnostic checks for users whose computers might be affected.

Imagine that you suddenly had no Internet access.  What would change about your life?  More than 2.1 billion people worldwide use the Internet.  The average corporate user sends and receives 112 emails per day.  Facebook claims 901 million monthly active users as of March 2012; 526 million people use their site every day.

Is all this technology making us happier?  Research seems to indicate the opposite.  For instance, Stanford University studied 3,000 girls ages 8 to 12, discovering that the more time they spent online, the more unhappy they became.  Excessive time online has been linked with depression and obesity, among other problems.

Why is this?  One answer is spiritual: we were made for relationship with God and others.  As soon as God made the first man, he said of his creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).  Every image of the Church in the New Testament is collective—a vine with many branches (John 15:1-8), a body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).  There are no solos in the Book of Revelation.  A coal taken from the fire grows cold—in contact with other coals, it remains aflame.

Near the end of his life, Paul urged Timothy to “do your best to get here before winter” (2 Timothy 4:21).  Even the God of the universe is not alone—the Father, Son, and Spirit share community that transcends time and space.  Now the Spirit wants to lead you into transparent fellowship with your Father and his children.  However, Satan has infected our culture with the spiritual malware of individualistic self-sufficiency.  The deciding vote is yours.

Scripture calls us to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).  What burden will you entrust to a believer today?