One thing that I’ve noticed in today’s world of news (and fake news), where everyone has an opinion and most content online is trying to sell you something: Pretty much everyone presents their message with a similar level of conviction, and quotes “studies” and “experts” to justify their point of view.
In fact, conspiracy theories often seem unnecessary to me: it appears that those with opposing points of view often sincerely believe that what they say is true, even when conflicting ideas can’t all logically be correct at the same time. While I’m sure that some conspiracies exist, my opinion – and only that – is that there are a lot more people trying to persuade others to follow wrong beliefs that they themselves hold, versus those who know (or have admitted to themselves) that their ideas are wrong and are trying to lead others astray.
Regardless of the motivation of others, though, even the most discerning of us may sometimes struggle to sort out right from wrong in the chaos. Instead of just going with whoever has the loudest voice or the most people in agreement, there must be some sort of truth that supersedes personal passion and mere human observation. In a world when even reported facts, first-person testimony, and scientific results can be bent towards one ideology or another, we need something outside of our limited capabilities to help discern truth. I believe that only a transcendent God can provide that, from His viewpoint outside of the bounds of time and space that we’re currently living in.
Consider again (since this was also the previous article’s text) the following passage from the book of the Bible known as Galatians:
This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Galatians 2:4-5 NIV
In this passage, Paul makes it clear that “did not give in to them for a moment”. Now, pressure to compromise the truth (the truth that God has provided to us) has been present in the world since the Garden of Eden, so it takes work to ensure that we are preserving the truth. This requires active effort on our part, not being something that just passively happens. When evil forces are promoting mangled versions of the truth, their message is going to grow and grow if those who know the real truth do not continue to push back against the lies. Followers of Jesus aren’t called to be un-loving or un-gracious in telling the truth, but we must continue to provide evidence, experience, and education about the truth to those who are living in the noise of a world that tells them everything else.
Paul also explained why this was so important. When we’re tempted to just let false teaching go (not just opinions on topics that the Bible doesn’t necessarily speak to directly, but rather core doctrinal principles where the Bible is quite clear), we should remember this passage. Not giving into false teachings isn’t just about being right, but about preserving truth. And, the truth that is being preserved here isn’t only some arbitrary fact or concept, but the saving gospel (the good news!) of Jesus Christ.
We cannot be sure that we’ll find our truth in the majority opinion, or even in famous preachers’ sermons. Of course there are many pastors and teachers who have been given amazing insights from the Scripture by God, but it is important to check everything (1 John 4:1-3). This is why reading (or listening to) the Bible on a regular basis is so important: without a regular supply of truth, you’ve cut off your key means of validating whether or not what you hear is true.
Regardless, the truth is always the truth. As you read, listen, and talk this week, remember that the source of truth is ultimately not found in popular opinion, experts, or even human interpretations of scientific studies, but in Jesus Christ. When you are walking with Jesus – the Truth – what other people believe really doesn’t change that truth (although it’s great when they, too, come to see the truth for themselves). And, preserving the truth of Jesus must not be just a hobby, since it may mean the difference between someone’s eternal life or death.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for August 1, 2021
- The Lookout, August 1, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Galatians & Ephesians, by Kenneth L. Boles. College Press Publishing Company, © 1993, p.32-60.