I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. (Colossians 2:4-5; New Living Translation)
In 1985, French sociologist and lay theologian Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) wrote a book titled The Humiliation of the Word. I know, it’s a little ironic to write a book about the decreasing power of words! Nonetheless, his material was prescient. He could foresee our rising cynicism about words and news.
In recent times, we have been bombarded constantly with claims of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” We’ve seen misinformation, distortion, and outright lies from public figures (politicians as well as media personalities). They make statements and declarations with deep conviction, compelling statistics, and “researched” facts. Well-crafted arguments. It leaves many of us feeling deeply skeptical.
It’s not new.
The first-century believers in Colosse faced their own smooth-talkers. The false-teachers of the day sounded convincing and compelling. But not everything that makes sense is true, and not everything that is most true can be nicely explained.
Thus, the Apostle Paul warned his readers about well-crafted (but false) arguments, and affirmed the elementary importance of living a life that trusts Jesus.
Perhaps that’s why I place less weight on Christian apologetics than some folk. I’m devoted to education and believe in its transformational power. Knowledge is power; no question. Learning matters. But Christian faith, while grounded in historicity, is ultimately a choice of the heart and soul. Faith is not ultimately about building a water-tight system of thought, but deciding whom we will trust from one day to the next.
I’m not splitting hairs here. I understand that without clarity about what is true, it would be hard to trust the One who said “I am the Truth” (John 14:6). But so often our confidence rests in knowledge rather than experience, in religious dogma rather than divine relationship.
Well-crafted arguments can help or hurt us.
Paul wrote: “I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.” Despite the clever and compelling suggestions swirling around them, the Christians in Colosse held fast to Christ.
Ever feel confused (or discouraged) by all of the conflicting views in politics and religion? When we are tempted to grow cynical and skeptical, let’s hold fast to that which matters most: Christ Himself.
Propaganda is as old as humanity itself. People have always twisted the truth to serve their own purposes. But in this fog, He whom John called “the light of men” (John 1:4) and “the true light” (John 1:9) shines through: Christ Himself.
Need an anchor today, and every day? We’d do well to trust the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ above all else. Lift your eyes above the horizon. Look not at your troubles. Listen not to the cultural pundits. Trust the Truth: Christ Himself.