Jaded: worn-out or wearied, as by overwork or overuse. (Source)
Credibility: the quality of being believed or trusted. (Source)
As 2020 recedes into history, I realize I’m a bit jaded. Well, a bit more than a bit. I’m jaded because my “credibility meter” has been heavily “overworked and overused.”
It’s a little-known fact, Normie, that we all have a secret meter in our brains that has an arrow that slides from side to side, from “I Believe!” to “Yeah, right!” when something or someone tells us to believe or trust what’s presented to us.
That’s a good thing. If we didn’t have that meter, we might go through life believing anything without discrimination. And that would be bad in this deceptive world we live in.
The sad part is a worn-out “credibility meter” can get stuck on the “Yeah, right!” side leading to a default response of cynical, “distrusting or disparaging the motives or sincerity of others.” (Source)
What causes the ol’ credibility meter to get overworked, over abused, or worn-out? When we’re continually confronted by alleged truths that conflict with each other.
If a person comes to me professing the truth of being a follower of Jesus, I take that at face value. It remains true unless or until proven otherwise. I take their declaration as credible. My credibility meter arrow swings to “Believe this!”
But if I see the person acting or speaking in a way that belies their declaration, my credibility meter’s arrow suddenly slams to the “Yeah, right!” side. If it’s a moment of weakness for them such as old ways bubbling to the surface, my credibility meter may not slam to the “Yeah, right!” side, but it does move into the “Hmmm…” zone.
Does this happen to you or is it just me?
2020 has totally toasted my credibility meter.
Unfortunately, I find myself more skeptical and cynical than I used to be. This makes me sad because, in the words of Fox Mulder (of The X-Files fame), “I want to believe!” But along came 2020. Here is my shortlist of things that crushed credibility in 2020.
Politicians, government spokespeople, and the election. Hey, shouldn’t we believe what our leaders and public (*ahem*) servants say? Aren’t they credible? I’m sorry. Forgive me. I can barely breathe I’m laughing so hard! After the vomit of lies passed off as truth called political ads and the perpetual cascade of false accusations and character smears, I believe few politicians. Because of their words and deeds last year, my default credibility setting for most politicians is “NONE.” Viciously attacking opponents while calling for unity has made it lower than “none” to me at this point.
Media credibility? Don’t get me started! Even the self-proclaimed “Most Watched, Most Trusted” news source blew its already faltering credibility out of the water on election night.
Big Tech credibility? They cry, “Free speech!” then skew search results to promote their political and cultural agendas. Google’s revealed goal was to tilt the election. If Google were honest, they would change their “Do No Evil” motto to DO no EVIL.
And what about Twaddle and Fakebook…I mean, Twitter and Facebook? Their claims to free speech also have no credibility after mass censorship of individuals and organizations with whom they don’t agree. Free speech? Puh-lease! Zero credibility.
But can we at least agree that the science and medical communities are credible? Not when conflicting truths battle it out on a near hourly basis. “Masks aren’t needed!” “Masks will preserve humanity!” “Lockdowns must be imposed regardless of the cost to society!” “Just kidding! They’re only for high-risk individuals. Sorry for devastating loss of your livelihood.”
The rampant abuse of statistics by some unscrupulous “experts” has nuked credibility. It’s hard to have faith in the “experts” when they spout, “Trust me! Believe the ‘science’!” while they (and their crony politician friends) ignore their own mandates.
Science is supposed to be based on foundational objective truth that is continually refined as we discover more objective truth. Science builds more accurate conclusions with newly discovered truths. When objective truth is discarded and subjective truth is exalted, the credibility meter starts smoking. When the supposed truth is revealed as blatantly false, the credibility meter detonates.
I’ve realized passionate hope assumes credibility. In 2020 websites and podcasts proclaimed they had “insider information” about the Presidential race and the soon-to-be exposure and arrest of criminals. Nope. Didn’t happen. It may happen, but at this point, it appears highly unlikely. I’m un-book-marking those sites.
Let’s move closer to home. After 2020 is the Christian community credible? To be fair, we aren’t perfect, and I certainly don’t expect anyone to be without error. But there are baseline biblical truths and standards to be met. Integrity demands those standards are met in our inward and outward lives. When met as a matter of course, a Christian’s life becomes a credible witness to God’s reality.
But in 2020 a well-known pastor in a well-known New York church attended by well-known celebrities resigned in disgrace for multiple affairs. A well-known apologist with a well-known international ministry was recently revealed post-death as aggressively sexually-harassing women around him. And a well-known minister from Texas pled guilty to massive fraud by using phony bonds.
The word they were proclaiming was the truth. Their lives refuted it. Therefore, the truth they proclaimed didn’t lose its credibility, they did. Sadly, that still reflects on the truth. And in true baby/bathwater fashion, the world turns its back on the truth of God they desperately need. Thanks, guys!
What about the credibility of nationally known prophets who prophesied President Trump was going to get a second term? I don’t have to name them. You likely already know them because numerous Christians were hanging onto their every word. As of the January 20, they are wrong. Their prophetic credentials have lost credibility. Not entirely, mind, you, but they took a major hit. Many Christians now have smoking, if not busted, credibility meters.
If you read my last blog post you know my stand on prophets and prophetic ministry today. I’m all for ‘em. But please forgive me if I don’t want to hear a “Thus saith the Lord” from some of the “big name” prophets. A little repentance and fresh humility, a few mea culpas, and some quiet would be nice for a while.
On a positive note, one prophet recently admitted he was wrong and wrote a PUBLIC apology and is taking steps to recalibrate his ministry. Contrary to the other prophets, Jeremiah Johnson hasn’t lost credibility in my eyes, he’s gained it because he’s doing what God’s word, God’s truth, says Jeremiah should do by admitting a mistake and readjusting. Jeremiah is showing how to restore credibility. Well done, sir!
Credibility is boosted when that which is proclaimed true, remains true. Credibility is reinforced when what is said to be worthy of trust is proved trustworthy.
I could go on, but I believe I’ve made my point. Credibility took a crushing blow in 2020. After much disillusionment and disappointment, people are still reaching out for something they can believe in or someone they can trust.
Our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
He said He was true and trustworthy, and He showed it. The Exodus for example. God said His people Israel would be enslaved and after 400 years they would be set free with many possessions (Exodus 15:13-14). It happened as He said it would (Exodus 12:40-41, 35-36).
Our Heavenly Father said He would send His Servant to take our punishment for sin (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). It happened as He said it would (Matthew 8:14-17; John 12:37-41; Luke 22:35-38; 1 Peter 2:19-25; Acts 8:26-35; Romans 10:11-21).
When Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) His Father’s credibility was on the line. Some have reworded it as Jesus saying, “I am the way TO the Father, the truth OF the Father, and the life FROM the Father.”
Either this is true or it’s not.
If it’s not true, then God’s credibility is shot and our credibility meter rightly screams at God, “Yeah, right!”
If it’s true, then God’s credibility remains intact and there is only one decision for you to make, “I Believe!”
You can pretend it’s not true and God has no credibility, but the biblical record has already established His believability and trustworthiness. And the historical record of God promising and acting in human history has established His credibility such as the promised rebirth of the modern state of Israel (Isaiah 66:8) and His people’s return to their God-given land. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
If you’ve chosen to place your belief and trust in the absolutely credible God through Jesus, you’ve placed your faith in the only completely, unwaveringly credible Person in creation.
Now it’s up to you (with the Holy Spirit’s help) to be that credible Christian a terribly jaded world needs to see, especially after 2020. We need to be that Jesus-follower whose word is true and reliable and whose life bears complete and unwavering testimony to the credible God we serve.
We are called to make God’s truth our foundation and then embody God’s truth into our lives. As we do, we’ll build a credible witness to God.
Will we be perfect? Are you kidding? Not as long as we’re in this mortal body. But that doesn’t excuse us from striving toward our Father’s standard of sounding and acting like Jesus.
The more we do, the more credible we’ll be.
May this year be the year credibility is restored, at least in us.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts