We live in a fearful, anxious time. One of the things that always seems to come with that are efforts to make sense of it all. That’s a good thing. Knowing “what’s going on” helps us make decisions and act in ways that help ourselves and each-other weather the storm.
That said, we must be wise in who we listen to and what we believe. There is a passage in Isaiah chapter 8 that seems to speak directly to the moment we are in. When Isaiah writes, it is a fearful time in Jerusalem. There are enemies outside the city, and unrest inside. People are wondering who is in charge, and what is going on. Many assume it’s a plot by shadowy figures to take control of the city.
In the middle of this situation, the Lord spoke to Isaiah. “For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.’” (Isaiah 8.11-13).
Friends, we have a choice in fearful times. We can attempt to make sense of things ourselves. And there are a lot of people that would like to “help us” by presenting their theory on what is going on.Frankly and gently, the vast majority of those theories are wrong and some of them will actually do us harm. The earth really is round. Bill Gates is not trying to take over the world via a tiny microchip planted in a future COVID-19 vaccine. The UN is not controlled by lizard people from space (yes, that’s a real theory that’s out there).
Instead of listening to these attempts and others to “explain it all,” by appealing to secret knowledge and shadowy forces, God calls us in Isaiah 8 to acknowledge that there are many things we don’t know and can’t control, but that He is in control. “But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”
In short, what if instead of fearing conspiracies, we fear God? That is, what if we looked to him, instead of YouTube, or Facebook, or our favorite website to tell us what is going on? What if we trusted Him to show us our place in it, and what to do next?
Friends, God’s hand is strong. He is not a conspiracy theory. He is a fact, and His hand is over us and over this time. Let’s trust Him first and most – and keep everything else in perspective.
P.S. We live in a time when it is hard to know who to trust. How do we sift out real information from things that are false? Here are some things we can look for:
- Secret knowledge required: Conspiracy theories often promise “inside” details about otherwise public events. They claim to show us what is “really” going on.
- Anonymous Sources: Many conspiracy theories rely on anonymous sources. If no-one is willing to publicly stand behind what is being said, be careful.
- New Interpretations: Among Christians, conspiracy theories often claim to unearth previously unknown secrets in the Bible. Or to put it another way, they include a claim that they have found a truth in the Bible that everyone else has missed for almost 2,000 years.
- Making complex events simple: The great attraction of conspiracy theories is that they take complex, or even random events, and build them into a system we can understand. That said, there are many things in life that are complex instead of black and white.
- Assuming evil intent: Conspiracy theories almost always assume that a shadowy group is attempting to secretly harm others in some way. Instead of allowing people to have convictions that differ from our own, it assumes people are acting for evil purposes against us, and they know it.
- Persecution of truth-teller: In conspiracy theories, those that know the truth are almost always a persecuted and suppressed minority. Any attempts to question or challenge what the theory says are understood as an attack.
This said, events in the real world can have these traits as well. Some things are kept secret. There are evil people in the world. Whistleblowers do get suppressed from time to time. No one point above necessarily rules out something being true, but the more an idea aligns with these traits, the more careful we need to be before we give it our trust.