The cares of the world weigh heavy upon the hearts of us all, we are anxious, and the nation is in no short supply of a myriad of voices seeking to direct our steps. The question must be asked, “Who do you trust?” and, “Who will you listen to?”
We have seemingly trusted Facebook and Twitter, and the Media (both CNN and Fox). And Congress. The medical confusion in Washington. The hypocrisy in government. People in healthcare, business. And in Ministry. Wait! What!? Ministry? Yes, even in ministry we have listened to voices that are less than safe.
We have conceded permission for actors, politicians, entertainers, influencers, and even errant ministry leaders to speak into our lives when their own witness negates any spiritual health, wisdom, or any conformity to Biblical orthodoxy.
Some want to silence those who would be opposed to their points of view. Others simply yell all the louder to foist their agendas upon the masses. I am continually amazed at the brazenness of people to lie, — and continue to lie, to assert a position they cannot prove, or to promote a narrative they know to be false. They do not apologize when proven wrong; they do not care, nor do they have our true best interests at heart.
Rather than be identified as a gullible people, rather than expose ourselves to the many voices of “guidance,” we need to discern authenticity and safety; who has integrity; who is genuine; who is telling the truth; who has your best interest at heart; and, who is safe?
The exhortation, “Just chew the meat, and spit out the bones,” has become a little tiresome. And, again, false prophets are not limited to the secular realm.
It’s hard to open the paper or click on a website these days without learning of someone in ministry who has fallen. So many people drift, or they capitulate. It’s getting to the point I am more reticent to quote from notable authorities or pundits that are living because of their ideological “flip-flops”; I chose instead to quote dead theologians as their manuscript has gone complete to the publisher; no more edits allowed.
Still, there are those who use Scripture to convince you that they are in the camp of the Lord. There are those who promote coffee cup theology; bumper-sticker Christians, and memes. Most are not that good; not all of them are bad, but God’s truth is so much deeper.
We had better figure out the safe voices which are healthy to listen to.
I am prompted to think about the “Dueling Prophets” in Jeremiah chapters 28 and 29–Jeremiah and Hananiah. Judah has been exiled to Babylon due to her faithlessness. In short order Hananiah declares in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Even so will I break within two full years the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations’” (Jeremiah 28:11). And Jeremiah rightly condemns the words of Hananiah, “Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Listen now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie.’” Hananiah dies later that year.
We know the story. The duration of the exile would indeed be 70 years rather than two years. Jeremiah encourages the Nation of Judah to hunker down in Babylon, build homes, live in them, plant gardens, build families, and even nourish the city where they are going. Jeremiah assures Judah that God will bring them back in His time–70 years.
“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’”
The safe voices may not always be the words we want to hear at the time, but the truth is always better than lies and deceit. This means we look for voices with integrity and consistency. It means I will no longer grant some people permission to speak into my life. It means that we need to tune many of the errant voices, the noise out of our lives. The answers we need are not coming from the media. They are not coming from Washington, Hollywood, or modern-day “Hananiahs.” They will be found in God’s truth.
Who do you listen to? Who is safe?
Who has your best interest at heart?
The voices we listen to are crucial.
We need to choose better; we need to choose well.
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]