Don’t be a “sheeple.” Know who you follow
With the advent of the Internet, we have seen the official democratization of information. In many ways, this is a good thing. If you live in a closed country, where the state controls the media, having access to other sources of information is critical to knowing the truth. But in many other ways, this democratization has allowed for anyone with a wi-fi hookup, some ideas and a URL to have a platform. Traditional indicators of credibility and typical checks on information are gone. And they aren’t coming back anytime soon. It is harder than ever to know what is true and what is not. Christians are not immune from this phenomenon.
Christianity Today Women asked, “Who is in charge of the Christian blogosphere?” The short answer is no one.
The long answer, for better or worse, is all of us.
There is a very real lack of accountability in the so-called Christian blogosphere. Teachers or writers can write under the name of “Christian.” And they can grow substantial followings and create their own communities that operate outside the traditional accountability structures of the church.
In this model, one of the main indicators we rely on now is followership. How many other people listen to this teacher? Do they have a big audience? Each of us, as “consumers” of information and “sharers” of it on social media have become the part of the accountability process as we decide who to follow and like.
The good news is this: there is nothing new under the sun, right? False teachers have been infiltrating the Church since the book of Acts. Most of the epistles Paul and John wrote, they actually did so in order to address false teaching and wrong thinking, which had popped up about the gospel after they left a church plant. This means we have a full arsenal of teaching on this topic.
In I John 4:1-3 God’s Word clearly instructs the Church, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this, you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” (ESV).
But you have to know the truth in order recognize the truth and the lies. There is a level of discernment against false teaching when you’re reading or listening to anyone about anything.
Don’t be a “sheeple”
As an almost too-appropriate compliment to this discussion, sheeple is officially a word, says official word-decider Merriam-Webster. According to NPR:
Sheeple are people who are docile, compliant or easily influenced.
Christian disciples are not to remain lambs, easily led astray, but to grow up in every way into Christ — the Good Shepherd. To become like Him in our ability to distinguish truth from lies, and to cultivate our ability to lead others into all truth.
This is about our consumption of teaching— whether offered from the pulpit or the internet or a podcast or the person sitting across from us at the coffee shop — it is our responsibility to be discerning.
For further study: Read Ephesians 4-6; II Timothy 3; Titus 1:11-15; James 3:13-4:10; II Peter 1:12-2:22; Jude.