The term ” Fake News ” has been utilized frequently in recent years, particularly surrounding the issues of politics. It has been directly aimed at a sensationalized public media which for its own purposes, whether for ignorance, profit, power, agenda, spitefulness, or other reasons, frequently promotes false news stories as truth. Such activity shapes the minds of those who hear it for the worse. Yellow Journalism, propaganda, blatant lying – call it what you will – harms those who come into contact with it. Even good brothers and sisters of our Lord have been exposed to such tripe, accepting and promoting false information in ignorance. How simple it is for falsehood to travel quickly in this digital era. A few minutes on the computer and hundreds, thousands, millions of people can be misinformed. Such an atmosphere reminds me of the concern of the apostle Paul in his second Corinthian letter because fake news disseminated across the globe is the product of or initiates the sins he mentioned there:
2 Corinthians 12:20 – “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish–that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.”
In the days of Jesus, John the baptizer came heralding the messiah and kingdom of God . Fake News? Was the Messiah of promise coming (Mark 1:7-8)? Jesus came and was baptized by John and God and the Spirit confirmed John’s teaching (Matthew 3). John spoke the truth.
Jesus would call upon men to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Fake News? Jesus would confirm His teachings with demonstration of the power of God. He would heal all who came to Him, removing their diseases and sickness (Matthew 4:23-24). Whether they were crippled, blind, insane, from birth or circumstance, Jesus made them all whole again (John 21:24-25). Jesus spoke the “Good News”.
Jesus, the savior of the world, chose the 12 apostles and the apostle Paul to share the Good News. Was salvation from hearing (Romans 10:17), believing (Mark 16:16), confessing (Matthew 16:16-18), repenting (Acts 2:38), baptism (Acts 8:36), and faithful living (Matthew 7:21) all Fake News? The message given to the apostles was from the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). They confirmed it with wonders and signs (Acts 2:43).
Proverbs 23:23 – “Buy the truth, and sell it not; Yea, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding”.
The truth is something which is valuable. Truth is something which we are to hold on to and treasure. When we receive information, we need to be cautious with it. We certainly won’t be receiving miraculous confirmation as the folks in the first century, but we can absolutely take a moment to consider the source of information, the evidence supporting that information, and the impact of sharing the information. The Berean Jews of the era of the apostle Paul did not simply accept his words as truth. They searched the scriptures to confirm the accuracy (Acts 17:11). In the words of former United State President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify”. If it is something you feel is worth being shared with others, it is worth confirming first.
Most folks know the story of the little boy who cried, “wolf”. We can be considered as the little boy was, unreliable as a source of truth, a false teacher, a liar, if we continually spread fake news. The example of being a Christian, preacher, or elder can be destroyed if you become known for sharing false information whether in regard to worldly happenings or God’s Word. You will be known for what you say and do (Proverbs 20:11).
1 Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;”