Many Christians today are captivated by discussions, arguments, and speculations about concepts or conspiracies like socialism, Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, QAnon, the 1619 Project, etc. American Christians have been duped into believing these are pressing issues which deserve our undivided and intense attention.
The Bible warns about becoming preoccupied with human-generated ideas which captivate our thinking with promises to resolve societal or personal problems. “Be careful,” warns Colossians 2:8, “that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.”
Over my lifetime, there have been a series of empty ideas that have captivated Christians. Whether it was the Illuminati taking over the world, Y2K destroying the world, or rapture predictions about the end of the world—Christians have repeatedly been deceived into devoting our attention to pseudo-urgent concepts or conspiracies. Too often, we have wasted time and money on these issues only to be embarrassed in the end.
We have to be wiser than this. While we cannot ignore popular opinions or beliefs, neither should we be captivated by them. We should acknowledge these ideas and label them what the Bible calls them: “empty deceit.” These attempts to elevate human reasoning, usually with just enough truth or factual basis to make them somewhat believable, try to convince people they are the solution to contemporary problems. They are not. We should acknowledge prevalent ideas (particularly those that become cultural markers), expose their deceitful nature, and then re-center our focus on the gospel.
Christians have faced this problem since the beginning of our movement. That’s why warnings like these are in the Bible—because human philosophies pre-dated the Christian era and only intensified as the gospel was affirmed as the true solution to deficiencies in individuals and communities. What we are facing today is not new, but too often our response makes it seem like we are novices in confronting false ideas. Let’s learn from both the Bible and best practices of our forefathers and make a better, more proactive, response.
Our focus must be on the gospel—preaching it, teaching it, witnessing it, and living it. Perhaps this will be the best outcome from the recent election. We will realize how futile it is to equate gospel-advance with political movements centered on human-generated ideas. Our time is better spent promoting the gospel rather than trying to win arguments about every new idea which gains cultural traction.
This past Sunday, my message was gospel-saturated with no mention of current events—including the election. Afterward, a woman came to me in tears, thanking me for a message that gave her hope. I later learned she had only been attending this church for three weeks, searching for hope in the midst of personal turmoil. Her response to my message reminded me people come to church looking for eternal truth giving them hope.
Let’s stop talking about yesterday’s tired ideas and renew our focus on communicating the gospel that gives hope for tomorrow and eternity.