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Escape From Error: Command Two

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.” – Deuteronomy 19:15-20

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. -1 John. 4:1-3

How does a believer testify to the truth in a world awash with falsehood? Our last post noted that a life of integrity begins and grows as we embrace the biblical command to suffer (2 Tim. 2:3-6). The flesh and the world cannot bear the uncomfortable, unalterable demands of truth; therefore, a life of godliness cannot be grown in agreement with the old nature and this present evil age, but exist entirely apart from it through the life that is Christ (Gal. 2:20; 5:24; 6:14). But what does this look like in practice and how do we excel in education as Christ’s disciples and faithful witnesses?

Command Two: Mind the Gap

No London tour is complete without a trip on its iconic subway: the Tube. For many, the experience is summed up in the three-word phrase, “Mind the gap,” which is a British way of saying “Watch your step.” While the famed intercom advisory ensures that no train door opens without the traveler paying due regard to their footwork, it also has a lot to offer us as we navigate the congestion and bustle of the information age.

No one can know everything—not even Google. In fact, most of our knowledge was obtained through the contributions of others. Much like Google, we acquire, analyze, and archive information supplied from outside sources that we evaluate and organize according to various criteria particular to us and our lives. That is, much of what we know has not been gained through personal experience but through the experiences of others. We know about the surface of the moon even though we have never been there, nor do we personally know someone who has been there. We arrived at an understanding of the moon not by going there but by trusting ourselves to the authority of those who have. In essence we took a step of faith, trusting ourselves to the competence of an authority. Much like stepping into the subway train, we sized up our surroundings, assessed the risks, and carefully crossed the threshold into a venue where we no longer had complete control. We could have walked but that would have taken hours, so we “minded the gap” and walked onto a train that we trusted.

A Serious Undertaking

Education is the guided instruction of a student to a pre-determined outcome and this, by nature, makes it an unequal enterprise. The lion’s share of the power is in the hands of the teacher because the teacher knows more than the pupil. Many times the benefits far outweigh the risks because the accumulated experience of teachers speeds us to a destination that would take lifetimes to reach were we without their aid. So rather than walking, we take the subway. Education is a blessing indeed—but mind the gap.

There are risks to be had in taking the subway. Not every train is worth taking, and carelessness could cost you life or limb. Safeguards are in place and help is available, but it is ultimately up to us to stay aware of our surroundings and attentive to our next step. Moreover, the frequency and ease that come with mass transit can numb us to the reality of its danger. While it may be just another day on the subway, the train is still moving 60 miles per hour through a dim, narrow, congested passageway. Even though much of our knowledge has come to us on the authority of others, it quickly becomes personal to us. We sought it out, learned it, and gave it value with respect to our personal lives. Objective facts or even unexamined assumptions can rapidly become personalized into values and commitments that seem too necessary to uproot or even question. In a word, it is easy to fall asleep on the subway—to slide into merely thinking someone else’s thoughts. Trusting an authority is wise; trusting them as the authority is something else altogether.

What does this look like in our day-to-day? In our next post, we will zoom in on the details to see how to “mind the gap” as we learn our way through life. In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

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