In high school, I had an english teacher who would require his students to write a report on a newspaper article each week. I remember hating the assignment, because I was a teenager and it felt like tedious work.
But in hindsight, I’ve come to realize the assignment was never really about my report. His goal was to encourage students to listen to and weigh the opinions of other voices on the things happening around us. One of his requirements was that your writing assignment had to come from a different newspaper each week. He’d always say that you’re less likely to think critically about someone’s opinion when you like them.
Over the course of time, if you only listen to the same voices again and again, you’ll become heavily influenced by those voices. It may seem harmless to gravitate, follow, and listen to the people who think alike, but it can also be dangerous. The more you listen to the opinions that continue to support your own, the more likely you are to opt out of thinking critically for yourself. You just talk and act like the public voices you admire.
The scale to which this is happening in our culture today has skyrocketed over the last few years. I’m sure there is a tangled web of reasons why this has become the case. But I would imagine one of the reasons why so many people use the same exact rhetoric and talking points on certain issues is because of our ability to be influenced by one another in ways we never could have before.
One of the largest issues with the influencer movement is that we begin to look and talk like people who don’t necessarily point us any closer to Jesus. Our greatest desire should not be to fall in line with a certain party, group of people, organization, or leader. The Christian agenda should always be to look and talk more like Jesus.
Here are 3 signs your worldview is being shaped by someone other than Jesus.
1. When a new issue arises, you look to your favorite influencer before looking to the bible.
A number of issues that were previously lying dormant in our society were brought to the surface last year. This has made Christians and non-Christians alike defensive, angry, and even hostile. We’ve had to learn how to process heavy and contentious issues that have affected the way we live our everyday lives. There’s no denying that problems have always existed in our country, but oftentimes they don’t seem to impact our day to day in the ways these current issues do.
Let’s just look back at recent history. Many people were opinionated and divided on the war on terrorism. After 9/11, this became personal to us as a nation and even more personal to those who lost loved ones to the attack on the World Trade Center. But as impactful and tragic as that day was, many people lived relatively uninterrupted lives moving forward.
In this last year alone, the division in opinions related to systemic racism, the tangled web of a global pandemic, and the chaos revolving around a presidential election interrupted the daily lives of just about everyone in America. We are no longer watching the impacts of these issues unfold on our television; we are witnessing them in our own communities on the very streets we drive on every day.
The result of this has led to people becoming more interested in formulating an opinion on these issues. And the way many have done that is by turning to influential voices on social media.
There’s nothing wrong with looking to the opinions of experts and educators in fields related to any given issue. The problem arises when we choose to look to any influential voice, expert or non-expert, before we even think about cracking open our bible.
I’m not going to suggest the bible has directive wisdom that will address how we handle the current systemic racism, but it does have a lot to say about how we treat people who are different from us. The bible might not speak directly into a global health crisis, but it has a lot to say on how we respond to those who have been placed in authority over us.
If we truly believe the bible is powerful and authoritative in the matters of our lives today, then we should be more willing to seek its wisdom than even those of our political, religious, and social leaders.There's nothing wrong with looking to the opinions of experts in fields related to any given issue. The problem arises when we look to influential voices, expert or non-expert, before we even think about cracking open our bible. Click To Tweet
2. The views of your favorite influencers never makes you feel uncomfortable.
You might have a certain news network, social media account, Christian organization, or church leader that you turn to for their opinions on current events. It’s good to find someone you can trust and turn to for advice, whether that’s privately or publicly. These might be voices who you’ve aligned yourself with because it seems they have similar ethics. And values to you so you feel you can trust their opinions. This actually might be the case most of the time, but the trouble comes when you default to their view in every situation and on every issue.
There’s great value in disciplining yourself to listen to multiple perspectives on any given issue. This will allow you to always engage an issue from a standpoint of critical and rational thinking. When you hear two opposing views, you will have to assess the situation, gather more information, research further, and form your own conclusion. Even the most respected individuals are flawed and won’t form biblically accurate conclusions about every given situation.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Even the bible calls us to challenge the information we receive from others. It’s good wisdom to not merely adopt the thinking of someone who influences you, but to work through it in your own mind and truly see if what they are telling you is in line with the ways of Jesus.Even the bible calls us to challenge the information we receive from others. Click To Tweet
3. You become defensive if you hear anything remotely negative about your favorite influencer.
Being on the defense is never a place to live. Certainly, there are times in our lives when we need to stand in defense of something or someone. But shouldn’t be the case all the time. This is the type of immaturity Paul is calling us to grow out of.
“You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-5)
Paul is telling the church of Corinth that their allegiance should not be to any person other than Jesus. We will be made fools if we sink our heels in the sand to support and defend a person no matter what. When we begin to defend a leader or influencer regardless of their actions, we begin to run the risk of turning that person into an idol.
We cannot and should not defend a person merely for the sake of defending them. We must stand for what is true and right at all times. If the opinion we are turning to stands for what is good and true in a certain situation then we support them, but that doesn’t mean they’ve earned our blanketed support. That person must continue to speak what is good and true in situation after situation for us to continue to defend them.
Ultimately, our desire is not to form an allegiance around any given person, organization, or movement. As followers in Jesus we must stand for what is good and true. In order to do this in the best way humanly possible we must commit to thinking biblically and critically about all things. The bible should be our true north for everything, even if that pits us against our favorite political party, organization, movement, religious leader, or pastor.
Our greatest aim should be to act and talk more like Jesus, rather than our favorite influencer.Our greatest aim should be to act and talk more like Jesus, rather than our favorite influencer. Click To Tweet