By now of course you know: President Obama was born in Kenya, President Bush conspired with Saudi Arabia to plan the September 11 attacks and drive up gas prices, oil on your kids neck will help him concentrate, acai berries will make you lose weight and feel wonderful, shark cartilage cures cancer, and measles vaccines cause autism.
Did I leave anything out?
I do not believe any of those things, but I know a lot of intelligent people who believe one or many. The facts behind those claims are sketchy at best, and in some cases seriously wrong.
While I am not interested in debunking myths (disproving a false claim is much harder than making one), I do think we should ask ourselves why we can be so gullible.
Why are we so eager to buy the next supplement or believe the next rumor? Because we want something to make the world easier. Living in this complex world is difficult, and often requires faith in the invisible God. It is much easier to put your faith in a purple juice or a well written documentary.
Sometimes the truth is scary. We do not know why some children have autism. Therefore, we cannot control whether our kids get it or not. If someone tells me avoiding a shot will protect my son, then I want to do it. The myth makes the world tamer and more understandable.
Other times the truth is complex, and myths are simple. We want a simple reason to dislike a politician from the opposing party. Policies take time to implement and even longer to fairly judge. Simple conspiracy theories allow me to avoid the wait, and start hating my opponent now.
The future is scary. Every time I walk into my doctor's office I feel the pangs of fear. What if these blood tests come back with bad news? Some people seem healthy one moment and have a heart attack the next. If you tell me your vitamin or supplement will prevent that from happening, I will take it.
The bible calls this reaching for myths idolatry. We fear that God might not get things right and so we reach for something that will not fail.
Instead of idolatry, let's try to walk by faith. What does that mean? It means we walk through a scary life, knowing full well that bad things definitely will happen. But we also know that the good and loving God is at our side when they do. He promises to guide us through pain, comfort us while we mourn, be near us when our hearts break, and ultimately to wipe away every tear.
We can know those things are true, because he cared enough about us to enter this world, experience the pain, suffer for us, and defeat even death.
Those promises are harder to believe, but in the deepest places of our hearts we know they are true.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 ESV)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, (Isaiah 43:1-4 ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)