Even now, no one is entirely sure where the earthly remains of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and its human cargo are to be found. Today there are reports that the search zone has moved due to a new theory from investigators about the aircraft’s speed and fuel consumption. We feel we cannot rest until we know what became of those 227 passengers and 12 crew.
Since the plane’s disappearance on 8 March, I have found myself becoming quietly (and slightly morbidly) obsessed with the story. But what I’ve been reading and hearing was not news, it was conjecture; assertions from anyone qualified to have an opinion which, for the record, appears to be anyone who has ever flown a plane.
Know-it-alls from the aviation world have bestowed upon us the benefits of their expertise, each one confident enough in their own speculation to have it published in an international news journal.
Add to this the plethora of opinions from bloggers, the Twitteratti, rock stars and our friends and families and you really have quite a smorgasbord of different theories. The plane was hi-jacked by pirates. The pilot was suicidal. A meteorite hit it. Aliens stole it.
At one point the plane could have been anywhere along a vector that measured a staggering 6,000 miles. Even if they locate the plane today we will still be far from knowing unequivocally what happened in the hours after it lost contact with ground-based radar.
“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.” 1 John 4:1
When we don’t have facts, or truth, or answers, we go into free-fall. We do not know who to believe. There is a danger that we listen to the loudest voices, or the answer that suits us best. We are at the mercy of experts. But at the beginning of this week, these experts were still placing the plane as far apart as Langkawi in Malaysia and a point in the Indian Ocean that is almost Antarctic.
We love facts and information and in a rational world, these are our building blocks. Without them, the order of the world falls apart. There is confusion. There are questions without answers and the kind of vacuum which nature abhors and which then becomes filled with theory and conjecture.
In the last 24 hours, there have been enough articles on flight 370 to fill 70 pages of Google. The simple fact that a plane can disappear in this ultra modern hi-tech age has left people baffled and awed. I am encouraged that so many men and women who do not think themselves religious, still have the capacity to be ‘certain of what they do not see’.
Christians see God as an anchor; a safe mooring. Belief in God grounds us and helps us make sense of the world in which we live.
John’s first letter warns us of false prophets who lead us into danger and urges us to be vigilant about who we listen too. It is sage advice – just as there are many theories about the demise of MH370, there are many theories about the origins and meaning of life, both in and outside of church circles.
Our mandate today is to pray for the families and friends of those onboard flight MH370. But it is also is to keep God at our shoulder, in our eyeline and close to hand.
His is still the one voice we can truly trust, and we must listen attentively and make the best sense we can of what we hear.
Chas Bayfield is creative director at Noah advertising agency and secretary of Cricklewood Baptist Church