By Jesse Jost
We sure seem to be in the thick of spiritual battle right now. When in the heat of a war zone, armor suddenly becomes a lot more precious! We desperately need our spiritual armor.
The first piece of armor that Paul mentions in Ephesians is the Belt of Truth. The belt in his day provided a place to tuck the long tunic so you didn’t trip and fall on your own clothing. Truth is one of our most critical protections.
But what is truth?
Today with the vast amounts of data, memes, talking clips, and rumors, information and disinformation, truth about what is going on is harder to discern than ever.
With trust in mainstream media evaporating, people are turning to social media for their news and information. It seems more free and less subject to government censorship, as anyone can share their perspective.
The problem is that social media outlets like Facebook, don’t care about informing you as much as they care about winning your attention.
The Facebook algorithms that determine your newsfeed are not based on what is deemed true or factually accurate, but on what will keep your attention the longest.
This is based on what has captured your attention in the past. So if you have had your curiosity piqued by news items from a certain point of view or political persuasion in the past, you will be far more likely to get those items in your feed and less of the news stories you disagree with.
This creates the potential for you to only see the posts that confirm your point of view, and less likely to see the posts that challenge or correct your view.
When you are exposed to a counter-viewpoint, it will often only be through a post dismantling a strawman version of the alternate view.
As you get pushed deeper into a circle of posts and online community of friends that just keep reaffirming what you believe, your confidence that you are right and that the truth is obvious grows in intensity.
Compounding the problem is that the posts most likely to be clicked on and shared are the ones that stir emotion. The more emotions are inflamed, the harder it is to change someone’s mind.
Ironically then, the same factors that are distorting the truth are now making people feel like the truth is obvious!
This is a dangerous situation for society! Groups of people are having their opinions and perspectives confirmed through repeated exposure. To them it starts to feel like their version of the truth is so obvious, and the only reason anyone would disagree is if they have been duped by propaganda and misinformation.
This feeling of confidence that you are obviously right stirs up hate and anger to those who are “clearly spreading lies”!
Believers often have a passion to share the truth and expose the lie. And we should!
However, we desperately need to be aware that just because we feel that our perspective is obviously clear doesn’t mean we are right!
What is true?
Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In His prayer in the garden to His Heavenly Father, Jesus said, “Your Word is truth.” Paul says the “truth is in Jesus.”
God does not call us primarily to be well informed, or to do enough research, so that we know the truth about masks, or covid, or the elections, or global policy.
We are called first to know Jesus and be found in Him, to abide in His presence and let his Word dwell in us richly.
Our mission is not primarily to correct people’s faulty opinions about current events, it is to be ambassadors for Christ. (2 Cor 5) God wants to plead through us to a hurting broken planet, that they can be reconciled to God.
Hope is found not in being right, but in knowing God and being indwelt by His Healing and Comforting Holy Spirit.
We need more humility and less confidence in our ability to be right about what is going on in the world, and more trust in God’s Word and reliance on His Spirit.
We need to spend less time on social media and more time in prayer hearing from God.
The world needs Jesus. We need to tell them. Don’t be distracted! It doesn’t matter if people know the truth about current events if they don’t know Jesus.
Don’t lose your credibility by swallowing and repeating potentially false or dubious claims. Stay focused on the Word that lives and abides forever. That is the only sure foundation!