I've been coming to realize lately how dependent our minds are. Just think about it for a moment. We are so ready to believe the first thing someone tells us. We put so much trust in people; in their positions and in their words.
I'll prove it! Have you ever gone to a swimming pool, and been worried that you would drown? We just know in the back of our heads that if something goes wrong, there are trained lifeguards there to save and protect us. We don't have to think about it, we leave it up to them. We don't bother imagining what would happen if the lifeguard wasn't looking at the right time... or if the lifeguard maybe was caught up with something else, or just refused to help! We wouldn't dream to assume that would happen, we simply have faith in that lifeguard.
Or how about on your regular sunshine-y afternoon bike ride? Or perhaps, a walk with your dog? We trust people we pass on the sidewalk not to ram into us or push us over. We simply expect courtesy and proper etiquette.
Recently, every time I've been in the passenger seat of our van driving down the highway, I've been anxiously watching the road ahead, the hazards, the driving skills of my chauffeur. Every time a car in the opposite lane is driving toward us (I can see them while they are still quite a ways away), I grip the armrests of the seat and keep my eyes peeled. Because lately, I have been imagining how easy it would be to crash into that oncoming vehicle. We assume that they are as determined to drive safely as we are, and yet, it would be so easy for that person to spin their steering wheel sharply, ending in a head-on collision. We trust them, but we really can't know if they'll abide by the rules of the road as they approach us.
All that to say, we are so dependent on the people around us! Most of the time, we never give a second glance to the person walking toward us, to the driver of the bus, to the driver waiting for us to cross the road... and in so many other daily circumstances that are so ordinary that I can't name them.
How about our dependency on other peoples' words? How many times has someone in power, or with great influence, presented a statement that was accepted by the adoring masses without reservation? I could give examples, but I think one is very obvious. Hitler. He had an entire nation convinced that Jews were not a human race, and that they deserved to be completely wiped out. So many were deceived, that they succeeded in murdering millions of civilians.
Now, that is an extreme example, but there are more. Take ancient Aristotle's claim to an Earth-centered solar system. The geocentric model. Though this theory was not verified, proven, or well thought through, it simply made sense to the people of that day, who did not have the technology we do now. Aristotle was a high-ranking, impressive philosopher, who had contributed much toward the world of science. His name was, and still is famous. People talked about him, learned from him, and accepted his word without hesitation. They trusted his claims, believing that he had well-supported evidence, as he always had in the past. His reputation was so highly valued, people didn't question his theories. That is, they didn't question it until along came good ol' Copernicus to set things straight. Copernicus didn't simply accept Aristotle at his word, he studied the skies for himself, and discovered the truth about the solar system: The earth revolves around the sun. Hence, the heliocentric model.
So you see, there are many examples proving how quick-to-believe our minds are. If someone in authority persuades us one way, and if their claims seem to make sense to us, we often accept it. "Well, So-and-so told me that, so it must be true!" Far be it, people. So many times in my grade-school years I can remember one teacher teaching me something a certain way, only to be criticized years later by another teacher! I was confused, disturbed, and in loss-of-respect for the first teacher. Not only did I completely drop the teaching of the original one for the new perspective on the double, but little did I know that this new outlook was to be again replaced in just a couple short years!
In my last post, I talked about how confusing the book of Job was. It sure made me question the way I think of God, the first time I read it. Job's friends made a lot of claims about God that seemed pretty legitimate, if you ask me. But then, there goes Job, telling them off, and giving different viewpoints and words that seem wiser than ever. They come back for round 2, then round 3, and it just keeps going! I didn't know who to believe, until God spoke to Job, himself.
And just like in the story of Job, there are many conflicting voices in our lives. There's who the world says God is, who we say God is, and who God says He is. And more often than not, they can get terribly confusing.
When I was younger, I took everyone whom I deemed trustworthy completely at their word. I didn't read later into what they had told me, I simply agreed and believed what they had to say. But now, since I have been let down by unfaithful people, and since I have been disappointed by people who I had thought were trustworthy, I have become 'frugal' with my faith in people. I don't simply give my complete attention and agreement to every speaker and prominent person. My brain acts more as a sift than it did a couple years ago. I sift out what I believe to be untrue, but I still gain knowledge in other aspects of the theories and ideas that I agree with.
Still, we know that we, men and women, are sinful. We are unfaithful ourselves. No one is completely trustworthy- not one! We all have failed, we all have lied. Our hearts are so deceitful and wicked, that even though we may want to learn the truth with all our might, it is hard to know what is true and what is not. Satan is the Deceiver, and he is true to his name, ironically enough. He deceives us. He tells us "You're worthless," or, "God isn't actually there." He whispers these things in our ears via different teachers, different scenarios, different thoughts, and different circumstances.
With so little truth left in our world, (theoretically speaking,) who can we trust? We are bombarded with different religions, opinions, arguments, theories, philosophies, procedures, facts, evidence, debates, preferences, everything! We can choose a certain side or adopt a certain way of thinking, but how can we know that we are right?
I'm sure glad I persevered through the book of Job. When I first read it, I felt suddenly depressed. I read it over a span of a few days. At first, I didn't know what to believe! It just seemed so contradictory. It seemed so... unplanned, unorderly, and just plain wrong. I thought, 'Okay, this guy seems to know what he's talking about,' and then someone else started talking, and he seemed correct too. People were just arguing over and over about who God was. And the annoying thing was, they all seemed right!
But then, I got to the end. The moment I was praying would come. GOD told them who He was. And who better to trust for the truth than Him, right? One of my fears is trusting someone with all my heart, and then having them disappoint me. It's happened before, and it'll happen again. Sometimes I worry that perhaps there is no one I can trust.
However, this I call to mind: there is One who is trustworthy. God IS Truth. He is Truth itself! He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE! There need not be confusion in our hearts. If we are truly seeking God, then we will find Him. And when we find Him, we find Truth. Those buddies of Job's may have had good intentions, and maybe there were little nuggets of truth hidden in their words. I don't know. Their speech was persuasive. I empathized with them, I thought, "Wow. This is powerful." But I was shocked to read that they were wrong.
See, they were making for themselves the god that they wanted. They were taking parts of God that they wanted to be true, and leaving out the parts that they didn't like. That's not God! It sounded pleasing, it sounded right. It fooled me! But, I know for a fact that the only words that are guaranteed to be 100% true are God's! He is Truth. What He says is true. And what He says is written for us all to read in the Bible.
I think it's healthy to build up constructive skepticism of anything in this world. People will deceive you. Sometimes, they aren't trying to. Sometimes, it may be hard to know for certain. People can coat lies in sugar and icing, and making it so appealing that you just want to believe it. People can give you 75% truth, and then twist the last quarter to make it untrue. People may think they are totally right, and they may be trying to help you grow in your walk with God! It's true- even powerful Spiritual speakers and professors can be wrong. They want to lead you on the right path toward God, but man is finite. Man is imperfect. Man will fail.
So don't just take people at their word. Take everything at God's word. Everything needs to be backed up with the Bible, and line up with what God has said. He is Truth, and He sets the standard. And remember:
A million people believing a lie
does not make it true.
There are millions of wrong ideas out there, and so many of them look like truth. They are temptations, really. But the only way to know for certain is to ask God about it. We are swayed and deceived so easily, but if we know the Bible and God's Word, if we memorize His Scripture and keep it Stowed away in our hearts, we will be better prepared to stand our ground in the barrage of lies that are thrown at us each and every day.
John 8:32 - And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.