Perhaps you've seen these Facebook posts recently:
“Red Sea: Archaeologists Discover Remains of Egyptian Army from the Biblical Exodus”
...the prayer requests:
“ISIS vows to wipe out all Christians in the next 24 hours!”
...the text messages:
“Ebola is in India! Build your immunity with tulsi tea”
... And the rants against world leaders who hate stay-at-home mothers....
Jesus said as he sent his disciples out into the world “as sheep among wolves” that they were to be “wise as serpents and as innocent as doves." This phrase from Matthew 10 has taken on new meaning in this electronic age.
I have been been gullible myself before and unwittingly passed on hoaxes, half- truths, and downright lies, either verbally or electronically. What’s so bad about this? Surely we want people to believe that there is actual historical evidence for the Bible. We all need to pray for international situations where Christians are endangered. And we want to be seen as firmly against those whose political views cause us concern. Right?
Here is the problem: If we as Christians are seen to be gullible, then our message, which includes many facts that are hard to believe, can be written off as part of our gullibility.
How do we get away from this? Let me suggest some ways in which we can approach any "news" we hear and some ways to filter it before we pass it along:
1. Verify sources. If we don’t have time to verify the truthfulness of something, we should not pass it on! If we try to verify something and cannot find anything about it except from the one source that is cited, we should not pass it on. For most things we encounter, however, a simple internet search will turn up the truth or error of a claim. Snopes.com is one site that may offer some help. Searching a few words from the title and “hoax” may turn up an article with the facts needed.
2. If any prayer request comes your way without any date on it, be wary. Stories of imminent danger to Christians “tomorrow” or “this week” can be passed around for months or even years. By all means pray, but don’t send it on if you cannot verify it.
3. Think critically. Would a major news source publish an article with spelling or grammar mistakes in it? Not likely. Would a world leader want to be seen to be against motherhood, no matter what you think of his policies? I doubt it. Could what you are looking at have been taken out of context? Quite possibly.
4. Give even your political/ideological/moral opposition the same benefit of the doubt you would want for yourself. Do not tolerate sensationalism, half-truths, or quotes taken out of context, no matter how badly you would like to see the opposing view look unpalatable.
No matter what, we should be women of truth and wisdom. It grieves my heart to see one of the headlines like I started with on Facebook and see that fifteen people have already “shared” it before anyone has done the vetting necessary to prove or disprove it. It is so hard to take those words back once said or sent out online or via text or shared as a forward.
I do believe that the enemy of our souls incites us to gullibility. He would like nothing more than to see our life-changing message of hope and life be discredited and dismissed as “just one more thing” that we gullible people believe. As such, let's be on guard against gullibility and help each other to be diligent to find out the truth in everything.
How do you feel about all the "news" that is passed around on social media lately?
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