Living, as we do, in the “Information Age”, it sadly becomes all too clear that obeying the call to abide in Christ is impossible without God’s help partly because we are beset by overwhelming demands on our time, energies, and resources. And let’s face it, not all of the “information” that constantly bombards us is accurate and reliable anyway… there is a whole lot of “static” attempting to drown out the lovely story of redemption and victory that the Gospel of God paints us in the Bible.
Consider, if you will, that despite how technologically savvy we are, frequent users of the internet are universally acquainted with something called “spam”. Spam, as I am sure you know, is the junk mail of our cybernetic world. Once you get an email address, it’s only a matter a time before it gets onto the lists of all sorts of businesses (some of which are legitimate perhaps, but most are not) making you the unhappy recipient of a plague of annoying emails and phone calls that promise anything you have ever thought of and many things you haven’t.
You’re also under a constant onslaught of a spiritual sort of spam in the pressures you face to keep up with others’ possessions, their ambitious social schedules, and their expectations on what it means to be successful. All of these things are constantly distorting the very things most deserving of your attention, time, and even passion. The things that are temporary, time and time again, steal the investment of our best from those things that will last forever.
Another electronic predation, similar in some ways to spam, makes a lot of phony promises, highly emotional appeals, or heavy-handed threats in order to provoke you to some sort of action that betrays your personal information (so that a bad guy, who is very likely in some other country, can charge up your credit card or empty your bank account into his or her own coffers). This method, called “phishing”, often even uses the names of legitimate banking or commercial institutions to pull the wool over people’s eyes. It works. People fall prey to it every day.
Recently, and perhaps more insidious than the previously described plots, is something called “spoofing” in which someone calls you, your caller ID identifies them as a bank or business with whom you do business (or perhaps a governmental agency like the IRS), and tells you that your account has been compromised or that you’re in default and legal action is shortly forthcoming. The caller then tells you that the only way to correct the situation is to provide them your account information (in order to “verify” your accounts – wink, wink). A startled victim might then give the “spoofer” the requested information or call the callback number and supply it… only to later find that the caller was a criminal who uses that information to steal from his or her account, or to set up a phony account in the victim’s name and use it to buy lots of things. Just so you know, such “spoofers” are often not even in our country but are from somewhere else in the world where it is hard to catch or prosecute them.
But even more sinister than this spoofing (as sinister as it is), and far more deadly, is the spiritual spoofing taking place around the world. False teachings and false teachers have for time out of mind deceitfully enticed people away from the truth of Christ. Even today, pop culture flamboyantly thrusts misleading messages in front of us. Pseudo theologians and phony philosophers, masquerading as messengers of truth and light, perpetually bombard us with deceits that attempt to substitute themselves for truth only to place us in bondage to either sensual urges or legalistic hatemongering.
Of course, these things aren’t new at all but have been slyly perpetuated throughout history, even in the earliest days of the church. And as early Christian leaders wisely noted, such teachings distort the simple message of receiving God’s grace by faith, the forgiveness of sin and the promise of atonement, as well as the abiding work of the Holy Spirit.
Such misleading messages in the world today, are “phishing” for your attention, your support, and ultimately your soul, “spoofing” you with false claims. “…There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV).
I grieve somewhat over the fact that many are snared in the confusion wrought by such counterfeits. On the other hand, I smile when I think of the power of the true Gospel of Jesus. Nothing can really stand up against the “good news” of God’s love triumphing over human sin. Nor can anything really resist the reality of God’s truth housed in Jesus’ flesh as He confronted and conquered subtle snares of deceit. And certainly nothing can cover or deny the shining glory of God as revealed in Christ as He conquered the dreadful specter of death.
The peace and joy we celebrate as God’s children comes from our having genuinely placed our hope and faith in Christ Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. They come from knowing that God has bridged a gap that we couldn’t and that death has no power over us.
“…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…. Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a Man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20-22 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 years. He is the author of “The Fairy Tale Parables,” “Crimson Harvest,” and “A Heart at Home with God.” He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).