There is security in zealotry. It feels good to belong and feel like you’re on the right side of something, a scrappy minority fighting for good against evil. When you find yourself defending and believing whatever your leader says, take heed, blind loyalty to any person or organization is idolatry. Zealotry can be blinding and very difficult to escape from, particularly if you’re surrounded by other zealots and any questioning of your leader is met with censure. This is also the earmark of a cult.
I am not pointing fingers in one particular direction. I know zealots on both sides of the spectrum. I read posts and articles fraught with bias and misguided fearmongering. The media is often perpetuating particular narratives – left or right depending on the source. Such bias in reporting has only served to further mistrust in our “free press” and incited more zealotry as people flock to their preferred medium and absorb whatever it says without questioning.
The notion of “facts” as universal constructs is virtually invisible in today’s age of media bias and conspiracy theories. And few make the effort to really research the issues before drawing conclusions. After all, when your leader speaks, you trust him or her implicitly. It feels good to feel morally superior. It feels purposeful to have an enemy to fight. It is so satisfying to get those likes and high fives for speaking the “truth”, particularly if it is controversial.
Friend, my hope for you, for our country, is for each of us to resist the temptation of idolatry and zealotry. A good first step is to honestly evaluate whether you’re blindly following something. Are you afraid to question what your leader says? Are you threatened by good questions from others? Do you get your “facts” from only one source or type of source? Do you make an effort to learn more before deciding what you think? Do you seek to understand those who think differently than you? Do you listen more than you speak? Do you feel like you have to defend your leader against all attacks? Have you placed this call above what Jesus deemed to be the greatest commandments – to love God and love your neighbor? Have you?
I will end by saying sincerely that my wish is that we will all be liberated and free, truly free from whatever captivates us; that we would know the deep, deep, freeing love of God; and that we would treat each other better, so much better than what I see today. Don’t believe the lies. We are not meant to be each other’s enemies.