Whose report are you going to believe?
As a fiction writer, I get to exercise a bit of creative license in developing scenarios that walk a thin line between truth and deceit. And that line becomes fuzzier still when I can stir the pot with a brew of differing political, cultural and religious viewpoints. As you’ll see illustrated in my novel, River of Eden, empirical truths held by one protagonist can quickly blur into something entirely different when seen through the eyes of other characters that hold differing ideals and morals.
Our society seems to be more focused on satisfying the “wants” of the individual rather than looking out for the needs of the community. As a result, the razor-sharp line that once existed between what is right and what is wrong becomes dulled with each new voice that clamors for attention on Facebook or the thousands of other social media outlets and blogs that pander to the me-too generation’s whims. And while unrestricted freedom of individual expression is not necessarily a bad thing, experienced media outlets can often get their thoughts and opinions circulated quickly to audiences who haven’t had the time—or interest—to get the facts straight for themselves.
In a similar fashion, Biblical truths can also become blurred when viewed through the filter of those who hold incorrect religious beliefs or ideologies. I’ve often mused that you could take nearly any Christian topic of controversy and construct a very compelling and convincing argument for or against it, depending upon which Bible version you chose to quote, along with other easily-searchable religious and secular resources to back your position. You see this dynamic playing out in churches and mass media outlets of all denominations each and every Sunday. Clergy and laymen alike eagerly pull a verse or two from the Bible and string them together with other seemingly related ones, sometimes taken completely out of context. They’ll even throw in an interesting and persuasive historical reference or two as further proof to back whatever new revelation they’d like you to buy into today. And with a certain percentage of their listeners, they’ll win their argument every time.
That brings us to the fundamental problem. ‘Good and evil’ and ‘right and wrong’ are not subjective concepts. They don’t vary from situation to situation, and they should never be defined within the context of any individual’s personal agenda, feelings or angst. A true Christian worldview should be founded on an understanding of this basic truth, and give us reason for faith in its creator.
That being said, one could argue that we see gross injustices happening every day on our planet. Some would question why a loving God would allow such infractions to exist. The Bible itself records events that would appear on the surface to be quite barbaric and unconscionable, alongside others that seem ridiculously contradictory to recorded history.
But before you get too defensive, or shrug it all off as ‘God works in mysterious ways’—or something equally as trite—stop and consider what the word faith really means. The Apostle Paul defines faith as simply ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (see Hebrews 11:1).’ And just because things don’t always happen for us on cue, or unfold the way we’d like them to, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are outside of God’s will; in fact, the opposite is usually the case. Furthermore, our faith must be placed in Jesus Christ alone (see John 14:6-7); anything less than that is merely positive thinking on our part.
That’s the real difference between the ‘façade of religion’ and true faith in God. The former is defined and restricted by the boundaries of man’s limited comprehension and abilities, while the latter entails total surrender to the infinite. As Rev. John Hawke boldly declares in my novel, “I’ll believe the report of the Lord any day!”