I grew up in North Carolina. That seemed pretty straight-forward to me. But it was interesting when I would be talking to someone from another part of the country, inevitably, upon finding out where I was from, someone would say, "Oh... I know someone who lives in South Carolina," as if it is a suburb, or subset of my beloved Tarheel state. I'm sure people from the Dakotas have the same experience. I don't think I've ever met someone from Ohio and said, "Oh... I have friends that live in Indiana." But for some reason, if two states include the same name, it is close enough.
Several years ago, the education system in America moved away from hard facts and tested the waters of 'close'. So many children were falling behind that they wanted to encourage them. In class, if a struggling child claimed that 5+5=9, they were praised for being close. I'm wondering if the teachers would be as happy or forgiving if they were being shorted on their paychecks. But 9 is close to 10, so that was close enough. Just putting forth the effort was worth more than truth.
Many people buy thing online today. I have a friend who sells hot tub parts on the internet. Sometimes customers buy the wrong part for their hot tub. Even though the description is very clear with tape measure, pictures and even videos, people will still buy the wrong part... because it looked like it was close to what they need. But a 2" piece will not work in a 1-1/2" space... I don't care how close you thought you were.
Nothing is more ironic to me today than the fact that we have access to more facts and information than any generation in history, yet we still work off of bad information. It is not unusual for people to make an erroneous claim to support their position, but then when their claim is proven false, they just go on as if it doesn't matter. Let me give you an example...
People who are 'pro-choice' (pro-abortion) often say things like, "Abortion needs to be legal because so many women are raped, or victims of incest, and many have to have an abortion to or else they would die during childbirth. And if we don't have safe legal abortions, many women will die from illegal 'back alley' abortions." This is a scary and dire picture. One may sit back and think, "Wow... things are bad. I suppose we should let women kill their children." But remember... decisions based on bad information are bad decisions. Facts are our friends.
The reality is, less than 1.5% of abortions happen because of rape and incest. Less than 1.5%. The number of abortions that occur to save the life of the mother are non-existent. Basically, no baby must be aborted to save a mother's life. These are true statistics provided by Guttmacher... a pro-abortion organization that keeps statistics on abortions. And what about all of those women who will die from illegal abortions if we don't allow them to have safe ones? Well, Guttmacher says that only 39 women died from illegal abortions in 1972... the year before abortion was made legal. These are facts... not ideas.
But sharing these facts with people who only want to put forth an agenda will not change their mind. They believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts. Even when their 'facts' are refuted by actual truth, they still believe the same bad ideas. This is a widespread problem. People without Christ will usually believe what they want to believe, regardless of the facts... or truth. They think their beliefs are close enough to the truth. And even if they aren't... it doesn't matter. This is extremely dangerous to civilization. When we can make decisions based on information we know to be lies, we set ourselves up for chaos and catastrophic problems. What we believe does matter. It will determine our standing with God, and our place in eternity.
Believing that Jesus is 'a god' is not the same thing as believing He is the one true God. Believing that there is no Hell will not keep you from going there. Believing that there are many ways to God is not close enough. Here's the thing about believing well... Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
Truth has the natural ability to set you free... if you surrender to it. Trusting in something close to the truth, or something that you think is truth does not have the same effect in your life. In fact, it is those things which we believe to be true but are not, are the most dangerous lies. Lies keep us in bondage. They cause us to do things we wouldn't normally do... and justify such activity in the process. When we continue to make bad decisions based on known lies, we guarantee destruction. When we make hard decision based on real truth, we guarantee ultimate freedom.
Today, you need to be a fact-checker. Don't just believe whatever phrase comes across your desk. Don't allow someone to build a false reality in your life based on facts that are not factual. Don't accept 'close enough' when it comes to what is true. Be a truth teller and a truth hearer. Don't let lies go undetected or unchallenged. Don't let truth go unspoken or undefended. Satan is called the 'father of lies.' The only way he can get us to sin and make horrible life choices is to get us to believe things that look close, but are not true. We must be sharper than our enemy. The apostle Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy, "I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth." 1 Timothy 3:15)
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.