There’s an icebreaker game that I’ve played at different business meetings or training classes. Maybe you’ve played it before as well. Here’s how it works: Each person takes their turn sharing three things about themselves. One of the three things shared is NOT true. The rest of the group has to determine which one of the “factoids” is untrue. It’s harmless enough and the icebreaker serves its purpose, usually, of getting people to open up and talk to each other. This simple game reminded me of the dangers we face in the world that we live in today.
You and I live in a day of unprecedented information. Everywhere we turn there is information bombardment. At our fingertips, through smartphones, tablets and computers, we have a plethora of knowledge. In less than 100 years we’ve gone from newspaper and radios to a world of data download and push notifications. Events that would take at least 1-2 days to reach our eyes or ears in the past are now at our disposal in minutes, even when they happen on the other side of the world. One recent ad even mocks delayed information with lines such as “that was so 11 seconds ago.”
This constant availability of knowledge hasn’t curbed our desire for more information. In many cases, it has whetted our appetite to know, hear or see some new thing. Even though separated by centuries, this pursuit of knowledge sounds eerily similar to what is described in Acts 17.
18 And some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him and began to engage in discussion. And some said, What is this babbler with his scrap-heap learning trying to say? Others said, He seems to be an announcer of foreign deities—because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.
19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], saying, May we know what this novel (unheard of and unprecedented) teaching is which you are openly declaring?
20 For you set forth some startling things, foreign and strange to our ears; we wish to know therefore just what these things mean.
21 (For the Athenians, all of them, and the foreign residents and visitors among them spent all their leisure time in nothing except telling or hearing something newer than the last.)(AMP version)
This scripture setting speaks of the danger I was reminded of in the simple icebreaker game that was played. When provided with multiple pieces of information that all seem credible, or that all seem far-fetched, it is extremely difficult to discern the truth. In some cases, it causes one to question whether any truth exists at all. It is a subtle, drawn-out ploy of the enemy of our soul. Overwhelm with information, give an insatiable desire for more “knowledge” and in so doing, dilute the ability to discern truth.
We readily grab snippets of information from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, CNN, Fox, USAToday, Huffington, Google, Wikipedia, money blogs, car blogs, health blogs, food blogs…and the list goes on and on. So easily, and with limited filters or thought, we allow our minds to be filled with this world’s knowledge. On the surface it seems so harmless. It is easily justified as “a means of staying connected” or “finding inexpensive ways to decorate” or “keeping up with the news” or ______________. (You fill in the blank) Somehow there is a transition from finding information to information overload. Rather than shutting it off we become numb and gluttonous all at the same time. It’s the trap of “telling or hearing something newer than the last.”
Please look at those three verses again, especially verse 18. Do you see why some said he was a “babbler” and a “setter forth of strange deities?”
IT WAS BECAUSE HE PREACHED JESUS AND THE RESURRECTION!
The Epicureans and Stoicks, philosophers, men filled with worldly knowledge of the day, viewed the preaching of Jesus and His resurrection as babble, scrap-heap learning and the setting forth of strange gods. There excessive in-gathering of information had diluted their ability to recognize truth! In their pursuit of this world’s knowledge they lost sight of the value of truth.
Consider this: With the lightning speed that “news” is now communicated via the multiple means already mentioned, how do we know if it’s true or not. By the time something is realized to be untrue it is “so last week’s news” therefore no one pays attention to the retraction or correction. As a result, the misinformation (aka lie) is perpetrated and truth is of little value because it isn’t current once discovered.
There are warnings throughout scripture.
See II Timothy 3:12-15, Matthew 24:3-5, 10-14, 23-24 and II Thessalonians 2.
Each one is letting us know the dangers of deception and the dangers of losing a love for truth.
There is no doubt that I use and am thankful for the ready access to information provided in today’s world. It’s important that I temper my pursuit with hard, honest questions. Some of which can only be answered through spending time in prayer and the Word.
Here are a few questions I like to ask myself:
o Is my time best spent pursuing this information?
o How well do I know the source of this blog, article or reference?
o Am I giving more time to knowledge pursuit than I am giving to biblical pursuit?
o Am I pursuing worldly knowledge or God’s Kingdom knowledge?
Why is all of this so important you might still ask? Let’s look at the very next verse in Acts 17. I believe it will help answer that question.
22 So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], said: Men of Athens, I perceive in every way [on every hand and with every turn I make] that you are most religious or very reverent to demons.(AMP version)
In the Athenians pursuit of knowledge they failed to realize what they were entertaining.
I’m thankful that we live in an age of increased knowledge. It has opened doors to spread the Gospel like never before. Let us not allow the gift of knowledge to become the detriment to life as Adam and Eve did. Let us pursue knowledge as the Holy Spirit leads. Above all, let us learn well from Peter & John in Acts 4:13. They were “ignorant and unlearned” but people took knowledge of them that THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS. He is the way, the TRUTH, and the life!