пятница, 13 декабря 2019 г.

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Avoiding the Trap of Conspiracy Theory Christianity

Avoiding the Trap of Conspiracy Theory Christianity

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Because God loves us, we can love God and love people! Can you think of anything more profound than this vertical and horizontal love that defines the Christian life? I had just finished preaching on this Great Commandment. God had worked in our midst, refocusing our hearts on the love God lavished upon us, and our love response to God and others. (I am always available to the congregation for prayer, or for working through how to more deeply apply the word that was taught). That morning, Sam (not his real name) approached me. He did this most Sunday mornings. He was elated! Sam began to explain his excitement. You see, Sam calls himself a watcher. Barack Obama was heading to Jerusalem later that week. He began to explain to me the ‘prophetic significance’ of Obama’s trip to the Holy Land. Obama would arrive in his armored Cadillac nicknamed ‘The Beast’. He would take part at a banquet in Jerusalem (666 meters away from the Temple Mount), and the centerpiece of the banquet was alleged to be an ice sculpture of Obama. “This is it! The antichrist is riding the beast setting up his false image!”

Unfortunately this was not unique for Sam. Every week he came up with new conspiracies, plagues of dead fish, global warming, Apple’s new i-device. He avidly trolled blogs, which fed him this information. On this particular Sunday, Sam was sure, “This one could be different!” I began to deconstruct his theory (which wasn’t that hard to do), Obama went to Israel and did nothing noteworthy, and the ice sculpture melted. This was two years ago and Israel is not running for the hills yet. What really grieved me was the fixation on conspiracies. Sam was difficult to love, so I guess it was a good opportunity for me to practice what I just preached (love your neighbor). More often than not, Sam wasn’t interested in the word that was preached, he was interested in what Iran was doing, or how 9/11 was a political plot to maneuver US interests into the Middle East. Sam never grew at our church and he ended up leaving after several months because we couldn’t see the things that he saw as prophetic. Sadly fixations on conspiracies divert our attention away from what the Redeemer is doing and onto speculations and hypotheses.

Conspiracy Fixations Divert Us from God’s Redemptive Work in the World

There is a real pessimism that can take hold, viewing everything as turning from bad to worse. Some people notice in their Facebook feed something to do with Islam, Obama, the FDA, Procter & Gamble, or Disney and they drink in the dark story as if it were gospel truth. Of course, other people avoid Facebook, convinced that it is actually run by the Federal Reserve’s roundtable: the Illuminati Papists keeping watch. All sarcasm aside, Paul calls us to, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Sadly we can walk being blind to what God is doing and live as reactionaries looking like scared little kittens, backs arched, claws extended, retreating to a corner, waiting for the cosmic reboot.

Actually, we should be the most optimistic of people in the world! We shouldn’t be naïve regarding the world’s evils. All creation is in rebellion against its Creator. But Jesus did say something about the gates of hell NOT prevailing against the mission of the Church (Matthew 16:18). God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Christ has not returned yet because God is still redeeming people to Himself. The church is too often on its heels in fear, rather than on its toes advancing the good news of Jesus to a world in need of redemption.

Conspiracy Fixations Divert Us from God’s Redemptive Work in the Church

When we become conspiracy focused, we struggle to unite around the Gospel. We can start holding our view as the true perspective and those who don’t hold to the same nuances of theology as we do, become suspect of being part of a great deception in the church. Of course I’m speaking of those who hold to the historic creeds of the Christian faith. There will be those who deny their Master who bought them (2 Peter 2:1). But if we are conspiracy focused, we are more concerned about pointing out the Bride’s blemishes rather than loving the Bride that Christ is redeeming. Certainly the church needs correction, yet I have noticed with those who are conspiracy-focused, view themselves as seeing clearly, while those who don’t see their perspective must be deceived. It is important to remember that God has committed Himself to His church and He is redeeming her. Rather than pointing the finger at the Bride of Christ, we should redemptively minister to one another, consistently and patiently directing one another’s gaze toward Jesus and all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).

Conspiracy Fixations Divert Us from God’s Redemptive Work in Us

With so many things to point the finger at, we can miss our own need for Gospel change. We forget that sin doesn’t merely lie without; it lies within. Verse 9 of Jeremiah chapter 17 shows me that the great conspiracy is in my own heart. My heart conspires against God. I put up smokescreens so that I don’t need to change. I make excuses for myself. I divert the conversation away from things like the Great Commandment (mentioned in the first paragraph), and put my attention on all that is wrong with the world instead of my own need for repentance from sin. At the turn of the last century, The London Times asked writers to submit a response to the following question, “What is wrong with the world?” That’s a good question. How would you answer? A well-known Christian author wrote his response to the newspaper with these words, “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.”
Let us expose the true conspiracy of our hearts, and love God and love people. Only then can that great conspiracy give way to the great redemptive plan of God in and through us.