More than 1,000 people have asked ‘Google’ to cleanse their web histories in the first three days after the European Court of Justice ruled we have ‘a right to be forgotten.’ By now the number will be a lot higher!
‘Google’ retrieves information put into the Internet. It’s like a mega-efficient librarian searching on our behalf, but without the smile or personal touch. In mid-May the European Court of Justice ruled that an individual has the “right to be forgotten” when [take a deep breath here] personal data online “appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purpose for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed”. It means that the
search engines have to remove the links to information, although not the information itself. The users of social media can still share personal information about others so long as it remains online. This has of course kicked off further debate about the right for free expression as opposed to the right to privacy. Those who wish to remove information want to be set free from the past or unhelpful associations. Their desire is to be clean.
Thankfully there has been a ruling from heaven that means we have the real possibility of being made clean for all who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Recently the church celebrated Jesus’ return to heaven (Ascension) and is on the brink of celebrating the outpouring of his Spirit on Pentecost or ‘Whit’ Sunday (from white, as new followers who were baptized, wore white clothes). Both festivals testify to the fact that Jesus’ ministry from heaven is still changing lives.
If a heavenly search engine did a check on our lives then it would dredge up all sorts of details that we’d want to delete permanently. Jesus offers a deep cleansing from our guilty past. He alone can do this as his death surpassed all the Old Testament sacrifices: ‘How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!’
(Hebrews 9v14). The desire to be clean can be met. Jesus alone can do this for his people. You don’t have to dress in white. But you will want to let others know.