There’s a cliche: All the world’s a stage. I amend this to say: All the world’s … programmed. Especially these days.
We know that we belong to God, but the Evil One controls the whole world.
1 John 5:19
I’ve been reading my way through Titus these past few days (it’s not a long book). Chapter 3, verse 9 got me thinking this morning:
Stay away from those who
– have foolish arguments
– talk about useless family histories
– make trouble and fight about what the Law of Moses teaches
These things are useless and will not help anyone.
And verse :14
Our people must learn to use their lives for doing good and helping anyone who has a need. Then they will not have empty lives.
Now that is one powerful statement, packed full of literal and figurative meaning. This got me thinking about why such an idea needs to be put into words – why it’s not part of “common sense.” Let’s break it down first:
Our people – The family of believers, those who have faith in a creator with a plan; clearly there is a separation from those who don’t believe or don’t spend time thinking upon this (Love your God with all your heart, soul mind, and strength.) Also can refer to anyone who believes themselves to be “good”.
must learn – Faith is not something we are born with; although the need for knowing might be an inherent drive, it requires life-long education, study, teaching and learning. We also have to learn how to “be good”.
to use their lives – “Why are we here?” To be entertained? To simply consume? Or to be useful? “Good for something”?
for doing good – Answers the previous question; we are here to steward, to maintain, to improve even
and helping – Help can be of many forms, from money to skills-teaching to an encouraging word; (Love others as yourself.)
anyone who has a need – Need can be of many forms; there’s a way every one who needs any thing can get a hand or a word, an example, of some thing beneficial
then they – Both the helped and the helper (that’s the beauty of it! Givers gain)
will not have empty lives – Lives full of meaning and purpose; reasons to be remembered (to be loved)
Breaking down verse 9 a little:
Foolish arguments – can anyone say “politics”? (Granted some topics are life and death, but much is nothing except for distraction – more on this in minute); being quick to anger, speaking without thinking
talk about useless family histories – how about most TV? Kardasians? (probably not spelling it right, but I won’t waste my time looking it up); promotes an attitude of ‘the grass is greener’, envy, jealousy, coveting
fighting about what the Law of Moses teaches – I’ve mentioned before about a sect that split over the proper number of lanterns on their vehicles; this is focus on the external practices that identify someone as “one of us”, rather than the internal work of becoming what and who we were created to be
There are two examples that further explain the point I’m trying to make. (I’m sure there are many more, but these are the two I thought of, having seen/read them.) One is the movie Wag the Dog about politicians manufacturing a conflict to distract public opinion from something. (Don’t tell me you don’t think this actually happens! That our entertainments can be more true to life than we wish.) The other is the C.S. Lewis book The Screwtape Letters, which are written between senior and junior … employees of the “Evil One”. (If you do believe in God and Christ, then you know this is Truth.)
All this got me thinking and googling for the correct phrase to describe what is going on in the world today. Distraction. Something akin to an illusionist’s or a magician’s sleight of hand. I found what I was looking for in a single word: misdirection.
“Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of the audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another… [it’s] the central secret of all magic… managing the audience’s attention is the aim of all theater… a manipulation of interest.” (Quotes from books on magic on the misdirection Wiki page.)
A Facebook post claimed (a la Morpheus in The Matrix) “Imagine if I told you your TV is (a device to program you)”.
There’s another cliche: If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, smells like a duck (etc)- It’s a duck. An autopsy or extensive scientific research is not required to prove that it’s a duck. We all know that it’s a duck.
Similarly, there are things happening in the world today that everyone knows without necessarily being able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. While faith in God has always been like this, the ‘conspirators’ of the opposition are getting more and more brazen with the deceptions.
The only counter we have is in the time each of us takes in solitude with God and His word, learning and studying, and in the time we share in the community of God, for help, hope, and support.
“It was in solitude with God that Jesus regained his strength and energy. ”
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)