What Does it Mean to be a Faithful Steward in a Post Truth World?
Considering the effects of this on the body of Christ
By now you have likely heard that Oxford Dictionary has named ‘post-truth’ its 2016 word of the year. The dictionary defines post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, our culture is forming its values on what it feels to be true rather than what is true in fact. It’s not that facts or even absolute truths are denied, they have simply become irrelevant in shaping public opinion. People are determining what is true for them based on what they feel is right (and wrong), even if facts and truths say otherwise.
I wonder about the effect all this has on the body of Christ? Is there such a thing as a post-truth Christianity? A ‘feel good’ form of discipleship? Where might we be in danger of adapting Scriptural truths to fit cultural norms because they just feel better to us? What do we end up believing if we are driven by what is comfortable, non-offensive and socially acceptable?
In Biblical terms, this desire to let our feelings dominate our values is defined as doing what is right in ‘our own eyes.’ The Bible sets up a strict dichotomy between doing what is right in God’s eyes vs. our own. Consider the following texts.
“If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you.” – I Kings 11:38
“I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” – Jeremiah 8:6
“A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:3
“Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” – Romans 10:3
Post truth is the epitome of doing what is right in our own eyes. It is spiritual narcissism and as such it is anathema to God.
This is the importance of living with a steward’s worldview. If we believe God owns everything, even truth itself, then we have no justification for recasting God’s truth into a more sanitized and pallid version. Stewards, and steward leaders seek to be faithful regardless of the cost. They believe God’s truth is really true, and they follow His leading unequivocally.
As faithful stewards how will we minister, lead and serve in a post-truth society? That is a question worth discussing in our homes, classrooms, board rooms, strategic planning sessions, leadership trainings, and sanctuaries in 2017. Let me pose three questions to get us started:
- What does it mean for us to live and lead in ways that are right in God’s eyes, and what will it look like to pursue these ways without compromise?
- Where do we see the work of a steward leader coming into conflict with the prevailing beliefs of a post truth culture? Can we anticipate the coming battles?
- What might it cost us to live in this way, and how do we prepare ourselves and others for that level of sacrifice?
May we have the courage and conviction to discuss these issues seriously as we face a new year committed to being faithful stewards in the kingdom of the triune God of grace.