It was difficult even to read about it.  Some years ago, a woman in northern Florida was obsessed with the Facebook game, FarmVille.  Apparently, “gaming” was her god.

Her infant’s cries interrupted her game.  So she shook her baby to death.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Alexandra V. Tobias entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder.   Tobias told authorities that she shook the baby boy, smoked a cigarette to compose herself, and then shook the boy again for interrupting her game.

It’s not hard to see this sort of thing coming –  

  • addiction to endlessly surfing the internet or gaming,
  • playing with a computer instead of with one’s children,
  • having emotional affairs online in place of a real relationship with the spouse under one’s own roof,
  • trading the time God has given us to serve Him and those around us for a self-absorbed life of gaming or endless texting.

Ugly things are bound to happen.

Who would argue that the internet cannot be a helpful tool?  The worlds of business and education are now dependent on it.  E-mailing and “skyping” loved ones far away, preparing papers and documents of all kinds, doing research – wonderful things can be accomplished.   But like anything else, all this can become an idol, and a cruel master.

In the realm of things neither commanded nor forbidden by God, the Corinthians once argued:  ”All things are permitted for me. “ St. Paul responded: “But I will not allow anything to control me.”

With some folks it is the abuse of alcohol.  With others it is the almighty dollar. With others it’s pornography or trashing the gift of our sexuality by sexual activity apart from marriage.  

Whatever cruel master we bind ourselves to – let someone point it out – let someone get in the way of our obsession – and we may fly into a rage.  This bondage to self is cruel – cruel also to those around us.

“No man can serve two masters,” said Jesus.  If we do not serve Christ, we will serve something or someone else.  It will not be a pleasant service.  

Christ alone can set us free from these cruel masters which cannot bear the weight of our souls.  Christ alone can set us free from ourselves, from sin and from sin’s power – and give us a liberty of heart and life we never could have imagined without Him.   “If the Son sets you free, you really will be free!”