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Personal from the President: February 4, 2021

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Personal from the President

February 4, 2021

Protecting Ourselves from Today’s Global Infodemic

A real global “infodemic”—a profound condition of widespread mistrust—presently afflicts the world, especially the United States. How bad is it? A prominent international report recently and alarmingly confirmed: “people don’t know where or who to turn to for reliable information.” What can you and I do about it? How can we protect ourselves?

For the last two decades, the yearly Edelman Trust Barometer has chronicled reports and interviews annually from more than 33,000 respondents in 28 countries. This Barometer report measures and gauges the level of trust in news media, government and business. It provides internationally regarded information that companies and governments use and act on.

As experts note, when trust levels are high, many things go well. When they are low, society suffers. Conflict, even war, can break out.

This year, the news from this influential report was not good. In fact, the low results are nothing short of shocking.

For the first time since the research has been conducted, the quantitative results from the report showed that media was viewed as both “incompetent” and “unethical.” A majority (59 percent) believe that journalists are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false.”

The outcome? “This is the era of information bankruptcy,” declares the report. “The global infodemic has driven trust in all news sources to record lows.”

It’s important to note that these numbers represent journalists and media on both ends of the spectrum—liberal and conservative. And government doesn’t fare any better.

What is disturbing about this for us in the Church of God fellowship? Follow-up research conducted a few weeks ago found that a majority (57 percent) of Americans interviewed noted that divisiveness is so extreme that they believe the United States “is in the midst of a cold civil war.”

No wonder that President Joe Biden delivered an inaugural message on Jan. 20 that called for calmness, unity and a lowering of political temperatures. Sadly, in the weeks that have followed, fresh rancor and divisiveness have reared up again on both sides.

How should we in the Church of God respond?

Consider these parallels: even before he was president, Abraham Lincoln saw similar issues. Back in 1858, he declared: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it” (Lincoln’s emphasis). When he spoke this, the United States was bitterly divided. He famously then paraphrased the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 Matthew 12:25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
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: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Today, this is more important than ever. In this current crisis of mistrust, we need to recognize that people on both sides have become radicalized.

As Lincoln stated, “what to do and how to do it” are critical. In this world where credible, reliable and trustworthy information is all but lost, where can people turn for real truth?

The biblical answer is found in John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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: “your word is truth” (English Standard Version, emphasis added throughout).

This verse comes from the powerful prayer of Jesus just before He was led to trial and crucifixion. We often cite it as a reference to the authority of the written scriptures.

But consider this. There is a certain Greek word that refers to vocabulary. The phrase for vocabulary that is simply translated “word” in English is lexi (from which we get lexicon).

But lexi is not the Greek word that is in the inspired prayer from Jesus to God in John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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. This is a critical point: Jesus uses the Greek word logos—the verse actually reads: “your logos [Word] is truth.”

Why is that Greek word logos important? Beginning a few hundred years before the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, many philosophers claimed and used the Greek logos to refer to the ability to think, as a means to persuade, as reasoned discourse, as the difference between humans and beasts. Logos was the center of many teachings.

Here’s a point that can be missed in English. In John 1:1-17 John 1:1-17 [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. [4] In him was life; and the life was the light of men. [5] And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. [6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. [8] He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. [9] That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. [10] He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. [11] He came to his own, and his own received him not. [12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: [13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
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, the apostle John flipped the world upside down when he fearlessly and audaciously proclaimed that Jesus Christ was in fact the true Logos (the “Word”), the Logos by which all things were made, the Creator of the visible universe and the indisputable source of moral, intellectual and spiritual understanding. John further astonishingly claimed that this Logos—Jesus Christ as the Word—became human (verse 14), and through this Word (Logos) came “grace and truth” (verse 17). This would have been a stunningly bold claim in the first century.

If we now revisit the entire prayer of Jesus in John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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, we then see Jesus praying for us today! “Sanctify them [set apart for holy service] in the truth; your word [logos] is truth” (ESV). This Logos—Jesus Christ as the Word—must be living within us (Ephesians 3:17 Ephesians 3:17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
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).

Think on this: if we indeed are to fulfill our personal individual mission of being lights to this darkened world (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
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), a world darkened by mistrust, we must fully knowunderstand and be living the precious truths that we hold. We must be anchored in faith and active in trust! People in the world should see that Word of truth openly living in us.

As we approach the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, I call upon each one of us to revisit the spiritual trunk of the tree and hold it fast. A most crucial part of this trunk of the tree is the precious plan of God, highlighted by the knowledge and application of the Holy Days.

Do we consider that this Word, this Logos spoken of by John, who is today our Elder Brother who stands ready to help us, is the One who both gave the Holy Days we observe and also lives in their meaning? Does the understanding of these Holy Days live and manifest itself in our daily lives?

Powered by the truth evident in the Word of God, these festivals transform us. They anchor us to God’s purpose. A few years ago this critical dimension of Jesus Christ in the Holy Days was presented both in our magazine [https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/jesus-christ-in-the-biblical-festivals] and the Beyond Today television program [https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-television-program/christ-in-the-biblical-festivals]. This information can serve you personally as a good foundation in this time of a “global infodemic” and “information bankruptcy.”

Allow me to address one more issue: as we approach the upcoming Holy Days, I would also ask you to consider and pray about the fact that the message of the Church must endure and prevail in this turbulent environment of mistrust. We don’t speak for the Left or Right—we openly declare the reality of the coming Kingdom of God! We contrast the truth of the Bible with the events of the day, “crying aloud” (Isaiah 58:1 Isaiah 58:1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
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) and proclaiming a warning message to repent of national and personal sins.

We should solemnly consider that the Bible warns of a coming time of spiritual famine, “of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11 Amos 8:11Behold, the days come, said the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
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). That time is not yet, but in a time when research confirms that media and government leaders are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false,” we must double down in prayerful vigilance, holding fast to the spiritual trunk of the tree.

The time is now. Let us protect ourselves from this “infodemic” by doing the work “while it is day” (John 9:4 John 9:4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.
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).