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Category: Philippians

One day every knee shall bow…including Google’s

“Knowledge is power,” Sir Frances Bacon wrote in 1597. Three centuries later, English historian Lord John Acton added, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.”


So, if “knowledge is power,” and “power corrupts,” then one might conclude: “Knowledge corrupts.”

Granted, this is a syllogism – not the most valid form of argument.

Still, the world seems hell-bent on proving it true.

Knowledge seems very squishy these days. Each of us considers our own perspective to be based on “facts,” and opposing perspectives on “alternative facts.” Even “fact-checking” has lost credibility—especially when it exposes the fact-checkers’ own biases. Yet most of us tend to find and believe “facts” that support our preferred narrative, with no further thought or research at all.

In today’s Information Age, whoever has the most control over information has the most power, redefining truth for the rest of us. Often with no accountability.

Enter the information giants—especially Google, Apple, and Amazon. (I’ll skip the social media giants as this blog is about academic / encyclopedic knowledge, more than popular knowledge.)

Google, the biggest information processor of all, has amassed unprecedented power by accumulating and distilling all available knowledge (“knowledge is power”). It has so much power that all internet researching is now called, generically, “googling.”

Recently Google released Google Home to compete with Amazon’s Echo (“Alexa”) and Apple’s HomePod (“Siri”). Like the others, this little device sits quietly in your kitchen, living room, or wherever, listening to your every word in case you want to ask it a question by saying, “OK, Google…” If you do, it then gives answers with a smooth authority that implies there’s no need to double-check them. And, in addition to listening to all of your conversations, it is also collecting data from them.

I am little creeped out by any company that performs 24/7 eavesdropping and data-mining, and then profits from the data. But I am also concerned by the actual responses to our queries and searches. Those responses are based on algorithms developed by humans. And those humans have power—power to slant the responses, intentionally or not, toward their own biases (“power corrupts”).

It’s been changed since, but recently I googled “fascism” to get a basic definition for one of my blogs. At the very top of the search results, above all of the dictionary results, Google provided its own definition so I wouldn’t have to look any further. But it defined fascism as a form of government that is right-wing only: “An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization…extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.”

To some on the left, this was perfect. But any serious student of history or government knows this definition is wrong. A more accurate one is that fascism is simply extreme totalitarianism on either the right or the left. In fact, the list of left-wing fascist leaders is long and murderous, and has included Stalin and Lenin in Europe; Castro and Chavez in Latin America; and Mao, Pol Pot, and Kim Jong Un in Asia.

Then Google tried another twist: For users googling news sites, in the search results Google added a fact-check box beside conservative sites, labeling purported statements from those sites as “false.” But in many cases the so-called “false” statements either could not be refuted, or were never made by the site in question at all ( Also, Google added no such fact-check box beside progressive sites.

After a public outcry against these clear and inaccurate biases, Google removed both the word definitions and the fact-checking boxes. It now includes word definitions provided by Merriam-Webster rather than by Google itself, and it has discontinued its “fact-checking.”

Yet examples still remain that “knowledge corrupts.”

Recently a woman posted a video ( online. In it, she shows a list of names or words related to world religions, and then asks Google Home to define each one. As she goes down the list, Google Home gives lengthy definitions for Allah, Buddha, Brahman, and New Age, drawn from various sources. But for Jesus and Jesus Christ, Google responds with variations of, “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help” or “My apologies—I don’t understand.”

Even Wikipedia knows who Jesus Christ is.

Google doesn’t?

In response, Google tweeted this statement:

“The reason the Google Assistant didn’t respond with information about ‘Who is Jesus’ or ‘Who is Jesus Christ’ wasn’t out of disrespect but instead to ensure respect. Some of the Assistant’s spoken responses come from the web, and for certain topics, this content can be more vulnerable to vandalism and spam. If our systems detect such circumstances, the Assistant might not reply. If similar vulnerabilities were detected for other questions – including those about other religious leaders – the Assistant also wouldn’t respond. We’re exploring different solutions and temporarily disabling these responses for religious figures on the Assistant.” (

To be fair, this explanation does make some sense.

Still, as the saying goes: “Once is a mistake; twice is a trend.” With Google, perhaps one might add: “Three times is a bad habit.”

Google isn’t the only knowledge clearinghouse that won’t acknowledge Jesus. Not long ago, comedian Steven Crowder asked Amazon’s Echo, “Who is Jesus?” and Alexa replied: “Jesus is a fictional character.” Skeptics claim Crowder edited the video to get this answer, but others reported getting the same answer before Amazon changed it.

Google now holds power over “knowledge” by holding a near-monopoly on internet searching, which is today’s repository of knowledge. Google seems to be writing a new version of truth. And it possesses nearly unchecked power to do so.

Suddenly, my above syllogism – knowledge is power, and power leads to corruption, so knowledge leads to corruption – seems frighteningly real.

The Bible says there will come a day when, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow “in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11, NIV).

For now, the tech gods of knowledge may try to redefine and minimize Jesus.

But one day, even they will kneel at Jesus’s feet.


Embracing surrender

surrenderDo you know that old song, “I Surrender All”?

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my precious Savior,
I surrender all.

As Lent comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “surrender,” and what it means to truly surrender my life to Jesus.

More accurately, I have been trying hard not to think about it.

But the harder I try to ignore it, the louder it repeats in my head: surrender.

What does it mean to surrender? The dictionary says “surrender” means “give up.” But give up what?

I think surrender means giving up three things: pride, freedom, and control—even control over one’s own life.

In military terms, surrender can be an act of cowardice. For dedicated soldiers on mission, surrender is not an option—because it means the loss of those three things, and also possible death to the physical body.

jesus holding up a manIn spiritual terms, however, surrender can be an act of trust. For dedicated Christians on mission, surrender is the only option—precisely because it does mean the loss of those three things, and also certain death—in this case, to the sin nature.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I am great at the act of surrender. I surrender to worry. I surrender to anxiety. I surrender to my flesh, my ego, and my emotions.

In fact, I can surrender to almost anything except God.

But look at Jesus. According to Scripture, on the last night before his death he does nothing but surrender.

First, on his last night with the disciples, he kneels to wash their stinky feet (John 13). It’s mind-blowing—the Creator of the universe, disrobing and performing the lowliest, filthiest act of service.

110631988Next, he surrenders his freedom. Facing arrest, torture, and execution, he prays in agony for another solution, even sweating drops of blood through his skin (Luke 22:44). Yet he ends with: “…not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, 42). As I’ve tried to make that my daily prayer, I’ve found that almost immediately I start adding qualifiers: “Your will be done, Lord – but I would really appreciate it if you would…” Giving up one’s freedom to the will of God can be much, much harder than it looks.

Finally, Jesus surrenders control. Without resisting, he allows himself to be taken captive and subjected to a series of impromptu trials, a brutal flogging, and death on a cross.

That ugly, blood-stained, wooden behemoth of a cross.

In Philippians 2:6-8, Paul quotes a first-century hymn describing this voluntary transition from glory to servanthood:

[Jesus], being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Jesus’ surrender to crucifixion forces me to rethink my own issues with surrender. He gave up everything to win the battle against sin and death. Sometimes I can barely win the battle against a Snickers bar. Oddly, I’m willing to surrender to Jesus for salvation, but not for the daily details of my life. For that, I surrender only part.

Jesus alone surrendered all.

So what can we do to move toward surrender? Here is what I think, and try to do – better on some days than others.


  • Understand the reasons behind the resistance. Instead of just confessing areas of known resistance, go deeper and examine what drives them. For instance, since publishing my first book I worry about whether people will like it or buy it, and whether I have any more good ideas in me. These are areas over which I have little control—yet I still worry. So I have to ask, what exactly do I fear? I admit I fear failure—but exactly what kind? Or maybe I’m afraid God will leave me stranded—but in what specific ways? Am I afraid I might end up alone and in poverty, or what? I think we should examine and question each worry and fear to find its driving motivation, because I believe those underlying motivations are where Jesus wants to set us free.
  • Focus on the cross. Our struggle to surrender to Jesus is one of the very reasons he was nailed to that cross. It always happens: five minutes after I say, “Yes, Lord, I surrender,” something comes along that causes worry. And then I surrender to that, instead of to God. I give in to my anxiety. But the cross is for everything—our yielded parts, and our unyielded parts too. If we don’t get that, we will beat ourselves up every single time we fail to surrender. Without the cross, we might as well quit before we blow it again.
  • Remember that the initial surrender to Christ is a good enough start. If you are a Christian, you have said “yes” to Jesus Christ. That is a huge start, and it is a big deal—even if you, like me, tend to keep worrying and trying to control the uncontrollable. Once we’ve said “yes” to the cross, Jesus graciously keeps working with us in each problem area of surrender, no matter how much we resist.

Victory - Surrendering to the cross of JesusThe thought of deeper surrender to Jesus has really been a battle within me during this season of Lent. But I think the fact that I can’t get it out of my mind is proof that it’s an area Jesus wants to enter.

In fact, the above passage from Philippians ends with this promise that he himself will help me to obey:

“Therefore, my dear friends…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

So once again, I look to the cross this Holy Week and nail my struggle onto its blood-stained wood. Today, I am surrendering everything I can. Tomorrow, he’ll invite me to go deeper and then, as scripture promises, help me to follow.

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