Wise and innocent: Seeking Truth during dark and chaotic times

Written by Dan Panetti
Published on January 12, 2021

Americans watched in shock and disbelief as thousands stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Most were left with more questions than answers as our nation prepares for a transition in power in our experiment with democracy. 

Calls for the removal of President Trump using the Twenty-Fifth Amendment followed, and some are looking to distance themselves from Trump’s legacy because of what the media is calling a failed coup attempt. I’m less prone to shock and dismay at this stage and more leery that the entire story isn’t being told. 

How should Christians move forward?

When watching a video, there are several choices: play, fast-forward, or reverse. As I read social media posts, the general feeling appears to be that we need to fast-forward this transition process, but I believe the button we need to select at this moment is another one.

I think we need to hit pause. 

We know as Christians that Scripture speaks of our “citizenship” in the kingdom of Heaven. At the same time, we are called to be good “citizens” of our earthly communities, whether they are God-honoring or not (see Jeremiah 29). 

The challenge of Jesus in his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) to be salt and light reminds us that light is useful when things are dark, and salt is useful when things otherwise would decay and rot. 

So, if we are to be salt and light, we need to understand that we, as Christians, are useful because all around us is darkness and decay! 

Four ways to think about the new year

With this understanding and perspective, how should we as Christian parents think about the political and cultural events of 2020 and move forward into the new year, using these situations to train our children? 

First, Christians are called to “understand the times” like the men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32), and that means we should be more historical and less hysterical.

By more historical, I mean that we should have an appreciation and understanding of our nation’s history. Within our relatively short 230-plus-year history as a nation, we have had “good” leaders and “bad” leaders, we have faced incredible oppression from within (including battling against the ravages of slavery and racial discrimination), and we have overcome obstacles like battling against global tyranny. The framework of our country has allowed for great individual liberty and freedom but also for abuses of those same liberties. 

As a nation, America is not perfect, but hopefully “we the people” have learned from our past—both the positives and the negatives—and are willing to do the hard work of democracy better in the days ahead. 

Explore the truth with your children in our nation’s history and expose the bad while celebrating the good.

Second, Christians are called to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (see Matthew 10). 

In today’s cultural crisis, that means that we need to be “street smart” and not just believe the narrative social and mainstream media are looking to advance. Opinions are like belly buttons—everyone has one—but wisdom is different and far less common. 

We need to spend more time with our children in God’s Word to gain wisdom and discernment and less time on social media listening to the noise and confusion of a dark and decaying culture. 

Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (ESV). Wisdom to navigate these troubling times isn’t going to come from our favorite “news source” but rather from God’s Word, and we should do our best to present ourselves “to God as one approved; a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV).

Third, Christians should remain engaged and not be discouraged. 

The call to “make disciples” (Matthew 29:19) and to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2) looms even larger in the midst of our current cultural chaos! Our battle is for truth: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV), and that battle continues regardless of which party holds political power. 

We can appreciate the progress made under Trump’s leadership: criminal justice reform, the appointment of hundreds of federal judges, growing economy, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and safeguarding 5G technology. There is a lot to be thankful for as well as lessons to be learned. 

Teach your children to objectively assess the world from a biblical worldview. Christians should continue to be prayerful, hopeful, and engaged.

Fourth, Christians should continue to walk in “love” and “light” and not “in the futility of their minds” (Ephesians 4:17) as those who do not know the Lord. 

Remember the words of Jesus as he prayed that his Father would not “take them [Christians] out of the world,” but rather that he would “sanctify them in the truth” (John 17). 

Parents, we need to hear that clarion call to raise our children to be sanctified, set apart for his service. We must wash them daily in the Word so that they would gain his wisdom and have his heart for the work set before them!

Let us serve our King

Again, pause and reflect. 

Be thoughtful and careful to avoid immediate and extreme reactions to situations without knowing more facts. 

Remind your children (and yourself) to be mindful of the “silo effect” of only getting your news and information from one source while also working to discern truth in the midst of so much noise and confusion. 

As a family, look to engage in meaningful conversations with other believers, especially those who see culture from a different perspective so that your views, and theirs, can be broadened and sharpened. 

Christ has called us to be salt and light. 

Our children, especially, need to see how important it is that we can serve our King while we serve our communities, loving our neighbors and speaking the truth in love.

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Dan Panetti

Dan Panetti serves as the Worldview Director for Prestonwood Christian Academy. He and his wife Tricia have four wonderful children and have been married for almost 25 years!

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