Let me introduce you to the author of confusion . . . Satan. The one who is also introduced as the father of lies; the accuser of believers in Christ; an imposter and impersonator who can brilliantly disguise himself as an angel of light. He is a consummate con-artist, and executive director of divisiveness. He casts a large shadow of fear, anxiety, and intimidation.
And . . . he is loving every minute of what he is seeing take place among many who profess to be followers of Jesus, and those who do not. He’s the bully who stirs up strife among those who are supposed to be on the same team. And we’ve allowed him to succeed for far too long.
It’s evident. We see it play out every day. We hear it. We read it. And even, perhaps, participate in it without even being aware.
As a whole, many are putting confidence in people and things. Sadly, many have turned on one another with name-calling and shaming.
I’ve heard the phrase “conspiracy theorists” so many times it makes me want to respond with the words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
I recently read an article by a prominent evangelical who called out evangelical Christians, generally, as being ones who are easily taken to conspiracy theories. He writes,
“While conspiracy theories are not confined to a specific segment of the population, we are mostly concerned with evangelical Christians sharing conspiracy theories. Too often our evangelical community has been too easily fooled, and too much is inappropriately shared.
At their root, conspiracy theories are illogical and embarrassing. The audacity of recent COVID-19 conspiracy theories demands that President Donald Trump, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the media, and the scientific community are all in league together. More outlandishly, they ascribe the virus to secret plans to end religious liberty, to connect a potential vaccine to the mark of the beast, and loop in 5G towers as a bizarre bonus.
But as evangelicals ourselves, we think it is time that the church recognizes the growing foothold conspiracy theories are gaining in our midst and what this means for our credibility and witness. These theories are gaining power in the church, and during this crisis when many are at home and online more than ever, the theories are a headache we can no longer ignore.”
Without a doubt, there have been many times where evangelical Christians have reacted and responded in ways that have affected our credibility and witness. Truth is, it’s not just believing in “conspiracy theories” that have such an effect. More often it’s how we live, or do not live, in our daily life that has the greater impact on our credibility and witness.
But to his point, and to others who share the same view regarding the belief in illogical and embarrassing “conspiracy theories,” specifically by evangelical Christians, I think it’s important to look at the broader narrative and all who are part of the bigger story.
Let’s go back almost 2,000 years ago. The story began to circulate that a man named Jesus, who had been falsely tried by the Jewish religious leaders and crucified by Roman soldiers, had risen from the dead. It was no secret that Jesus had claimed that this would happen: He’d be crucified, and on the third day rise again. On that Sunday (the third day following His death), when Mary and other women, went to the tomb, they noticed that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance, and an angel of the Lord spoke to them and said, “He is not here; He is risen.” It wasn’t long after that Peter and John raced to the tomb to see what had taken place. They too saw the tomb empty. Report got back to the Jewish leaders that the grave was empty, and hush money was given to the soldiers who had been charged with guarding the tomb. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures report it this way: “While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”
Yet, in all of this, the disciples (according to the definition for conspiracy theorists) seemed to be illogical. Their credibility was shot. Who was going to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead? The disciples then were considered fools, and it is no different today with many who consider followers of Jesus to be . . . fools; illogical; embarrassing.
Personally, I believe by faith, that what was spoken in the Scriptures concerning Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection, is true. Call me illogical. Call me embarrassing, if you would like. Call me a conspiracy theorist. However, from what I’ve seen in Scripture, and what has happened throughout the years in my life, is more than enough evidence (or data for those who like that term better) for me to believe that I serve a risen Savior.
Speaking of evidence and data, specifically science (which is a systematic approach to understanding, using observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable experimentation to understand how nature commonly behaves), it has seemingly become more about interpretation based on one’s ideological, religious, and political leanings than the pure definition of “science.”
We’ve all heard in the news over the past few months that we should trust the science and the data in order to make safe and wise decisions as to how we are to respond as a global community in the midst of this pandemic. For certain it has been a deadly and difficult season, certainly beyond anything I have seen in my lifetime, and there should be a measured approach that seeks to be responsible in how we live among one another. And that is where the confusion exists. To the point of the one I quoted earlier, it is hard to know where to turn to find the truth about what is really going on, and what we are to believe. Again, God uses people for the good of others, and ultimately His glory, but our trust is not to be in people, but in God.
It has been documented that the scientific community isn’t certain what the approach or guidelines should be in dealing with the coronavirus. Medical experts have changed their position on occasion regarding how this illness is spread. As well, there are many medical experts in the same field of medicine, such as Epidemiologists, who have differing views when looking at the data and how to respond. Models, that were touted as being scientifically-based on confirmed data, have been grossly erroneous. (See “Don’t Believe the Covid-19 Models,” The Atlantic, April 2020; “Another blow dealt to public faith in scientific models,” The New York Post, April 25, 2020)
Suddenly, it seems, the world is concerned with data and scientific evidence, except when it comes to the science and data that clearly reveal the life of an unborn child in a mother’s womb, or the science and data that confirm that the gender of a child is either male or female. Somehow, though, that data and science, doesn’t resonate well with many. It cuts against the grain of their ideology; their politics; and for some, in my opinion, their agenda. To go against confirmed data and science, to me, seems illogical; it affects their credibility, which I guess (according to the definition) means it could be conspiratorial.
The point I am getting at is this: to call someone, or a group of people, conspiracy theorists when data are not conclusive is, in my perspective, not helpful and certainly doesn’t give much room for the opinion or beliefs of others. We have lost the courtesy of agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable. This is true for whatever religious, political, or social beliefs you embrace.
In all of this, though, there is something bigger going on that is otherworldly, but many have become myopic in their vision and are missing it. They have taken their eye off the One who is trustworthy; the One who gives science a reason to exist. The One whose name is above every name. The One whose name is Jesus.
We’re not unlike Peter who, when called by Jesus to step out of the boat and come to Him on the water in the midst of a raging sea and strong winds, took his eyes off Jesus and plunged into the depths of the ocean. His focus shifted from the One in whom He could place His complete confidence to the tumult around him. His concern was the wind and waves; His confidence was in his own ability, or lack thereof, and it would have cost him his life had he not grabbed hold of Jesus’s saving hand.
The coronavirus is a strong wave that has created tsunami like winds, and I am concerned that we, as followers of Christ, have placed our focus on something and someone other than Jesus. Yes, talk about how to take wise steps, but not without hearing from the Giver of all wisdom. Yes, talk about medical protocol, but not without hearing from the Great Physician who is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. To react out of fear is to sink deeply into an ocean that is sure to overwhelm. But to focus on the One who calms the wind and the waves is to rest and be at peace when all Hell breaks loose.
I am confident there is an enemy, whose name is Lucifer, who is seeking to bring about confusion, fear, anxiety, doubt, and hopelessness. His tools are many, and it seems his best as of now is Covid-19, and he is certainly not wasting this opportunity. But even his best is not good enough. He is a defeated enemy who is unleashing his fury that will ultimately end in futility.
I am confident there is a God in heaven whose name is Elohim, Yahweh, and Jehovah Shalom, and He is taking the brokenness of this world and what the enemy is intending to use for evil, and using it for our good and His glory.
I am confident this is a loving and gracious, albeit difficult, prompting for us to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. It is an opportunity for His people to experience a fresh move of His Spirit, reviving us so that we truly become credible and effective in our witness, even though many will call us illogical and embarrassing.
And I am confident that one day God will make all things new, and this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Come, Lord Jesus.