Dealing with the noise

Audible sounds or silent thoughts are fundamental components of our decision-making. They precede our voluntary responses, acting as catalysts to what eventually unfolds. Those events and responses ultimately shape our lives and impact those within our circles of influence. In many ways, the body is a slave to the dictates of the mind. Consequently, the battles that count, and leave the most enduring effects, are fought in the mind. As such, whatever or whoever can possess your mind becomes your suzerain. That’s why it’s important to steward our eyes and ears because they are often conduits to our minds. One way to combat the effect of external forces on our minds is regular introspection. Asking ourselves why we think the way we do is crucial for self-development because it helps us understand ourselves and the overt and covert influences in our lives. 

If we believe the experts, multiple extinction-level events are imminent, from climate disasters to rogue technologies and geo-political tensions. Worse still are the constant updates streamed to our televisions and portable devices. Additionally, much of what we see and hear is knowingly skewed or downright false because profits, instead of truth, generally dictate what goes on the airwaves. Sadly, manipulated information has also resulted in disparate factions developing in our societies as many retreat into echo chambers, with voices willing to propagate anything that affirms their worldview. Unless you actively unplug from the constant stream of noise, you may get sucked into the prevailing worldview of your larger society because of the unrelenting barrage. 

Recently, I was listening to one of the early pioneers of artificial intelligence discuss the threats the technology poses to our way of life. He made some bold predictions about life as we know it if the evolution of AI continues on the current trajectory. I realised my mind was running amok, and I was having a visceral reaction to what he was saying. This individual was a subject matter expert with the experience and track record to back his assertions. On an intellectual level, his reasoning was flawless for a novice like me. As such, I couldn’t argue with his conclusions. Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that I have a similar reaction when I read about angry exchanges between nuclear superpowers or when I see evidence of global warming. Some might dismiss these threats as untrue or hyperbole, but for many, such information understandably feeds into a worldview laced with fear and jeopardy.

I endeavour to assess what I read and hear on its merit. But as I observed my reaction to global crises in recent weeks, I realised that what I’d seen or heard was impacting my decisions. Occasionally, I would think: “If life as we know it is going to change, then why bother with this and that?” Being constantly mindful of the brevity of life is a biblical principle [Psalm 90:12], but these musings weren’t godly. As I reflected further, the words of God to Adam and Eve echoed in my spirit [Genesis 3:11]. I believe these experts are giving honest assessments of the imminent dangers facing us, and there’s evidence to support their hypotheses. It’s probably unwise to dismiss well-researched suppositions as fake without requisite proof. Similarly, saying que sera and ignoring impending danger isn’t a great tactic. Nevertheless, if you believe these existential threats are real and likely to affect you, you must choose what governs your mind and, therefore, your decision-making; fear and despair or hope and faith.

Fear and despair are anathemas to the Christian walk. They hinder mental transformation and impede spiritual growth [Romans 12:2]. However, believers can’t shut out the world and become hermits to avoid news which could engender fear and despair because Scripture repeatedly instructs us to be watchful. So, we must tread that fine line between being aware of world events and not allowing what we see and hear to dictate our choices [2 Corinthians 5:7, Ephesians 5:15-16]. In these last days, we must employ wisdom and revelation to counter the subtle and lurid propositions emanating from the noises bombarding us with God’s word [Ephesians 1:17]. I respect the experts, but God’s word stands far above human wisdom and hypotheses. Nevertheless, Scripture won’t profit us until we know, believe and speak it, particularly when we face circumstances contrary to God’s will [Joshua 1:8, Romans 4:17]. When we do so, placing our hope in the one who knows the end from the beginning, whose purposes are impossible to thwart [Isaiah 46:10], God’s word will build up and establish us [Acts 20:32], and cast out all fear [1 John 4:18].

A believer steeped in God’s word is like a moviegoer who already knows how the film ends. He doesn’t fret when there’s jeopardy in the movie. As God’s children, we’re in the world but not of the world [John 17:14-16]. We know how the story ends. So, these existential threats won’t determine our fate because our lives are hidden in Christ in God [Colossians 3:3]. As such, we can face the future boldly regardless of world events. The noise will not stop, but we can choose our response. We can acknowledge reality but opt to fortify our minds with God’s word and be governed by it. Or we can choose to listen to men and align our plans with their suppositions. The latter will leave us wrapped in fear and despair. But there’s Good News! God cannot lie [Numbers 23:19, Romans 3:4]. Irrespective of the existential crises threatening our world, God has a good plan for us [Jeremiah 29:11], and those who trust Him will not be disappointed [Romans 10:11]. So, if what you’re hearing doesn’t align with God’s word, it’s noise. Guard your mind, and don’t let it dictate your decisions [1 Peter 1:13].

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