Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1–2
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Up to this point, we have considered three reasons as to why we succumb to misinformation. First, false witness is easy, especially in our “over-informationalized” world. Second, false witness feels safe, particularly when we are hurting. Last of all, false witness is difficult to avoid, for there is no lack of puppets in the puppet master’s realm! How then do we live without strings, when myriads of people depend on them? Thankfully, our Lord’s wisdom is made available to us through Scripture, so let’s consider the first of three biblical commands that cultivate lives of integrity.
Command One: Mind Your Business
Most of us will never need to know if there is a connection between COVID-19 and Bill Gates or the whos and whys behind JFK’s assassination. Our interest in strange theories and bizarre assertions stem more from idleness and indulgence than necessity. Incidentally, the same can be said of a variety of “spiritual” rabbit holes that trouble the Church today. Godliness isn’t about knowing the age of the earth or understanding exactly how God is three and yet one, and life isn’t about resolving every uncertainty or answering every question; it is about learning how to know and trust God in the midst of it all (Deut. 29:29, Psa. 23:4–6). Doctrine degenerates into dogma when we snatch the shepherd’s crook and insist that we know the way, holding to our pet theories and theologies instead of to the true Savior. Discipleship requires submission to the Master, learning from Christ in the context of where we are now, and choosing obedience in the work that is committed to us (John 21:21; 1 Tim. 2:1–2).
Our Business: Suffering and Sanctification
So let’s get down to brass tacks—what is our business? If we are disciples of the Lord Jesus, then our business is to suffer (Acts 14:22; 1 Pet. 2:21):
- We are chosen to suffer the adversities of life (1 Pet. 2:20–21).
- We are ordained to battle through difficulty and discomfort of temptations (Heb. 12:3–4).
- We are blessed to the experience the rejection that comes from identifying ourselves with the rejected Lord (Rom. 8:36).
Scripture is filled with teaching on suffering because it is so integral to the work of Christ in and through us, and when we have armed ourselves with this “way of thinking” (1 Pet. 4:1–2), we are prepared to overcome the temptation of false witness. Suffering is the discipline of discipleship, and it is the means by which we are evaluated, corrected, cleansed, and approved (Luk. 22:28–29). This means that the degree to which we welcome suffering is also the degree to which we welcome maturity. Our resolution to pursue Christ-likeness over comfort empowers us to repeatedly own the reasons why we give in to sin and pick ourselves up from the ground, resuming the upward climb of learning to live differently, one righteous choice at a time (Jas. 1:2–4).
Choosing the Battle
Avoidance of suffering is at the root of all three of the reasons we give in to false witness. It takes a great deal of effort and discomfort to work hard, to ride out uncertainties, and to stand up for truth in a world committed to falsehood. Living differently may mean learning ways to discipline our minds, so as to invite curiosity, and cultivate creativity in our daily lives. It could mean not knowing the answer to a seemingly pressing issue and yet learning to trust God with the matter instead of fudging the facts and forcing falsehoods on ourselves and others. It will certainly mean choosing reality over popularity and godliness over getting ahead. All of these choices promise tremendous blessing, yet they grow and bear fruit only through our submission to slow, steady suffering allotted to us by our Teacher (Mt. 16:24–25).
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