Manipulated by Cunning Craftiness – Greg Albrecht

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed to and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). 

Paul employs the word picture of a boat being tossed and driven by a storm, reminding  Christ-followers “the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13) will mature them, helping “then” to prevent them from being “blown here and there by every wind of teaching.”

The NEB translates this passage:  “We are no longer to be children, tossed by waves and whirled about with every fresh wind of teaching, dupes of crafty rogues and their deceitful schemes.” As we remain anchored in and through Christ, and as we focus on and follow him, we need not be a rudderless boat.  We need not be at the mercy of, as Peter describes those, motivated by greed, who “will exploit you with fabricated stories” (2 Peter 2:3).  

The partisan war taking place in North America right now is a battle for hearts and minds – an ideological struggle in which toxic doses of vitriol and venom are being used to diminish and demonize.  Christ-followers face a clear and present danger when scheming opportunists insist that God himself is part of their political and religious brand.  

Religious and political vendettas and their propaganda are nothing new – history teaches us indoctrination of the masses inevitably involves the politicization of religion and politics. For examples, one need look back no further than the 20th century, to Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lenin and Pol Pot.    

Consider the stinging indictment Jude heaps on those who oppose the gospel:

“Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct – as irrational animals do – will destroy them.  Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error, they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.  These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind, autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted – twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 10-13).

Fires need fuel.  Storms need wind (political and religious hot air).  Wars need enemies.  Struggles need adversaries.  It’s an old game, sadly it is tried and true and pathetically it has “worked” over and over again.  In this political zeitgeist, we may safely apply Paul’s words to mean that we as Christ followers must guard against being “dupes of crafty rogues” (Ephesians 4:14, NEB), whether “their deceitful schemes” are those of right-wing nationalist or left-wing revolutionaries.

The search for truth involves asking questions.  Christ-centered maturity helps us realize how much we don’t know, in a dogmatic and opinionated sense, and that what we now know for sure is far less than what we once thought we knew. Asking questions and being mature enough to avoid the trap of always being “right” are spiritual weapons against propaganda, hype and brainwashing.  We are more easily duped when we gullibly fall for half-truths presented as unassailable dogma. 

Resist propaganda.  Deprive Christ-less wind bags of flammable fuel for fires they seek to set.   Refuse to partake of the hate agitators produce by stirring the pot.  Reject the heady witches’ stews by which those who seek to feather their own nests attempt to drug and kindle lust crazed passions.   Jesus Christ is our Rock who keeps us grounded against all the winds and storms of opportunists who seek to exploit and manipulate.   

Extend and pass on grace.  Pray for peace.  In Christ-like humility recognize that ALL of us, political and religious authorities and those of us who vote or support their policies, are flawed and broken human beings.  Self-righteous indignation, fiery threats of condemnation and revenge have no place in the kingdom of God.

When Jesus, the Lord our Shepherd, dispatched his disciples on a “training mission” to preach and proclaim his kingdom he told them he was sending them out “like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16).  

The biblical image of the peaceful kingdom of God is one in which the “wolf will dwell with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6).  The beauty of being a part of Jesus’s flock is that his life within us transforms us from abusive predators into vulnerable servants.  The flip side of the vulnerability of having the mind of Christ means we need care and caution to avoid being used, duped and preyed upon.    Until the time when wolves dwell with lambs we would be well served to be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing who attempt to pull our Christ-given and Christ-grown wool over our eyes. 

May the fullness of Christ dwell in us, and may his mind and heart so live within us in such a way that we might forsake all calls to violence, and proclaim his rest and his peace.  Give it some thought, won’t you?           

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