Yes, Christians have their differences, but we also have greater differences between us and the world. Among the many differences, here is one we should not overlook: that is, we speak the truth of God’s Word and “We have renounced disgraceful and underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s Word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:2).
Of course, we as Christians often fall into the trap of the world, namely we misuse words, we exaggerate and sometimes—God forbid—we even tell lies. But the world has perfected the art of prevarication, that is, using words to manipulate, to deceive and to control others. This is known as propaganda. Even God gets weary listening to empty talk, “You have wearied the Lord with your words... By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in
them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (Malachi 2:17).
Why do I discuss this topic? I look forward to being at the annual Shepherds 360 Conference for pastors and church leaders, during which we can all interact with our “differences." But, since I have been asked to speak to the pastors, I have chosen the topic, Politics, Propaganda and Power — a study of how language is used to deceive the masses. Then, I want to contrast that with what God has to say, namely His insistence that truth is better than political power and a word of hope from above is better than a thousand false promises spoken below. In short, we will contrast the deceitful words of men and the reliable words of God.
During the conference we will reconnect with friends, we will stretch our thinking, and we will ask: how can we better represent the Gospel in our collapsing culture?
Gustav Dore was a famous painter in Europe who painted a wonderful picture of Christ. “You must love him to paint him like that,” a visitor said, to which Dore replied, “I do love him, but if I loved him more, I could paint him better.”
The goal of this conference is not just to understand our differences, but to ask, how can we paint Christ better against the background of surrounding gloom, fear, and despair? We will learn that we can speak with authority and without cunning deceit. We will learn once again that there is a great difference between the words of men and the Word of God. Like the early apostles who were beaten and thrown into prison, we will take up the challenge to Go, Stand and Speak “the wonderful words of this Life” (Acts 5:20).
October 18-20, 2021, is on my calendar, I hope it is on yours!