I am grieved by how easily people can be swayed by smooth talkers and convincing arguments. Appealing to emotions such as fear, pity, anger.
How many of us study, scrutinize, research, question? I am a natural cynic so I am bent to do such things. When someone posts a quote from, I don’t know, Thomas Jefferson on some meme on Facebook, I actually look up whether or not he said what is attributed to him. I know that makes me super-weird, but I just won’t take your word for it. Too many fake facts and fake quotes and fake stories are floating around for me to believe anything at first glance.
I’m not original in these concerns, of course. Paul warns his friends in Rome of the same thing:
Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.
And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters — I couldn’t be more proud of you! — I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!
Don’t be gullible, friends. Investigate. Doubt. Just because something is on TV or the internet does not make it true.
Even more so, just because you believe something does not make it true! I personally have been surprised by how many of my beliefs have been wrenched away from me by the Holy Spirit. Let me share an important example.
A lot of people I know have been posting about certain personal rights this year. (No, this is not a political debate; stick with me.) Many, if not all, of these people also call themselves Christians. Their argument is this: “XYZ is my right as an American. Don’t take away my rights.” And truly, they are correct.
Are we, as Christians, not called to lay down our rights, just as Jesus did? He certainly did not hold onto his rights. In fact, if I am a Christian before I am an American, my Christianity should usurp my American ideals.
We often confuse our rights as a citizen with the commands of Jesus.
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
So let us not get entangled in the business of this world. Let us be about the business of Jesus. He is looking for those who are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners. These are Jesus’ words:
“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.’
“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because —
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me — you failed to do it to me.’ Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
Are you more of a sheep or more of a goat? I’m afraid that most days I choose to be a goat. But I see the gravity of this decision. Don’t be fooled into forgetting what is important: not rights, not politics, not citizenship. What Jesus says to you is more important than everything else. It’s not about what you believe; it’s about what you do.