“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
As the shelter-in-place order drags on, and the path to reopening looks lengthy and trying, tempers are beginning to flare. Experts have different, even contradictory, opinions—and worse, every person in America has seemingly dubbed himself or herself an expert too! (A few months ago, we were all experts on impeachment proceedings; now we’re all experts in epidemiology. It’s amazing how much we can pretend to have learned with a few Google clicks!) A huge part of the problem is that no one really knows what to do. There are no good options moving forward—only less “absolutely awful” options.
We don’t do well with gray these days. To maintain the divisiveness and polarization our society feeds on, everything must be black or white. As Brett McCracken says in his brilliant article “Watch Your Knowledge Diet in the Covid-19 Crisis,” “‘Alternative facts’ proliferate, plenty for every side to marshal for whatever opinion they wish to perpetuate. Incessant commentary and clickbait leave our heads spinning. When something as biologically objective as a virus becomes politicized and subject to one’s own partisan interpretation, it’s obvious just how post- into the post-truth era we’ve come.”
How should we respond as Christians who believe truth and follow the Truth embodied in Christ himself? According to Paul, we must not “conform to the pattern of this world,” which includes relative truth, ethical utilitarianism (i.e., making sure my “side” wins at all costs), foolishly airing our own opinions, and contributing to the rancorous polarization. Instead, we must be transformed by renewing our minds, such that we can discern God’s will (on issues like when to “reopen” church).
I can promise you this: you will not renew your mind by steeping it in the world’s thinking. Endlessly scrolling through your social media feed or consuming partisan spin will squeeze you quite quickly into the world’s mold. Renewal, by contrast, comes through sustained reflection on God’s Word, meditating on it day and night, and allowing it to shape all our thinking—about the news, politics, and all the rest.
With that in mind, Brett McCracken developed the “Wisdom Pyramid,” drawing on the imagery of the Food Pyramid. I’d encourage you to consider it carefully, and to read the accompanying article, as you consider your own wisdom “diet.”
As you read through it, here are a few diagnostic questions to help you with your self-examination:
- Do you spend more time in God’s Word or on social media/watching the news each day?
- When you read Scripture, do you truly chew on it, or simply pass your eyes over the page?
- Based on your speech (and posts), are you most passionate about God’s kingdom or the affairs of this world, including ephemeral political victories and gamesmanship?
If the (honest) answers to those questions are not what they should be, let me encourage you to fall to your knees—right now—before a holy God in confession and repentance. Then get up, open his Word, and delight in it today, and every day hereafter.