Beware Of Fake News!
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 “(1) Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, (2) not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (3) Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,”
Apostle Paul taught, preached and wrote a lot about the soon return of Jesus Christ on earth and the end of the world. Apostle Paul has given us mental pictures of the resurrection day and the great day of our salvation. One of those passages is in the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 & 5:1-11). From Bible study, we should all anticipate and look forward to the soon coming of Jesus Christ. It is our main focus and hope. We think about it, we prepare for it and we are anxious to get done with this troubled world. But it seems on having received his first letter, the Thessalonians got over excited and over reacted, and some among them started spreading alarming information in relation to the end of the world. Apostle Paul therefore writes a second letter and advises that, beware of that which is alarming – it is fake news!
Fake news looks like real news and is much more attractive than real news. Fake news is spread by non-main stream media outlets. Fake news is the business of gutter press and the anonymous. Fake news is highly deceptive because it is alarming, attractive and irresistible. Fake news attracts traffic and probably business. Fake news deceives and destroys and there is no one to be held accountable. Unfortunately fake news remains highly enticing compared to real news. Main news will tell us for example that investigations on a scandal are still going on. Fake news will tell us for example that the scandal is fully exposed and all the guilty are listed and all secrets exposed. Majority will prefer the fake news first and believe it fast. Fake news is a menace that states are enacting laws to fight. Fake news is the reason controls are coming on social media on how much stuff you can forward and share at any one time. Because of fake news, people have died in places like India. Beware of fake news!
Fake news has also been a church problem. While we teach about the soon return of Jesus Christ. Fake news within the church takes it a higher level. They enrich the teachings with false details and findings that cannot be verified anywhere. As usual the church members get attracted to the fake news first and faster than the real news. Apostle Paul was concerned about the Thessalonians church that was gullible to fake news! Apostle Paul writes to the church telling them not to be easily alarmed by fake news.
Ephesians 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” This is another warning from apostle Paul to the Ephesian church concerning reactions to fake news. He says its childish, spiritual childishness to be moved by fake news. Beware of fake news!
Fake news includes but is not limited to stories on thousands of churches being burnt in Russia and India, yet a study of main stream media has no such stories. The church official channels have no such stories. Fake news includes but is not limited to videos with propped up studios announcing that mandatory Sunday law has been enacted here and there, yet a close follow up of the story may have some exaggerated truth or none at all. Fake news even comes with a journalist of an unknown media house reporting from a site, some serious alarming news. Fake news includes clips by church leaders advising members to do this or that. Fake news includes unofficial reasons why the church recommends fasting and prayer. Fake news includes unsubstantiated stories of how infiltration has taken place in the church and we are all bound to get lost, unless we listen and believe the perpetrator of the fake news. Fake news includes discoveries on cancer causing substances and new lists of what to eat or not eat.
Fake news thrives because it attracts attention to the perpetrator. Who doesn’t like the lime light even for false reasons? Fake news popularises those who spread it for the short time. It is not unusual that churches will reject standard biblical teachings of prophecy and insist on this or that teacher of prophecy to teach them a particular prophecy. That attention drives the fake news industry. It increases popularity and perception of being better than others, being holier than others.
Fake news thrives because it discredits the main stream church, just like fake news discredits main stream news outlets. The exercise of discrediting is perceived as courage and solidarity with the majority who are disadvantaged in one way or the other. Fake news is big because of the perception that others are hiding the truth except the fake news people.
Fake news thrives because according to Apostle Paul, it tosses one from one place to the other. Because of fake religious news and teachings, students drop out of school to pursue what they imagine to be a higher goal – which is spreading the fake news, others leave employment to go aside and study missionary work, yet none of this has a direct biblical injunction. Studies and employment are not evil, for people to be encouraged to quit. Fake news has damaged people’s health as they quit prescribed medication to take alternative concoctions, and as a result some have died. Fake news on health has caused deaths and a malnourished people. Fake news that leads people to abandon studies and employment has done more damage than good. Attending school and being employed is not a waste of time in relation to the coming of Jesus. Jesus will still save into His kingdom people who will be studying and pursuing all other professions.
Fake news thrives on one truth and all lies theory. Fake news builds on one verifiable truth and then constructs all lies on that one truth. That is why fake news brings one verifiable clip or quote and then builds the lies around it. A picture of a church leader, and a quote they never made! If a professor releases preliminary findings that cell phones are probably damaging memory, that is enough fodder for fake news. The fake news perpetrators will not quote the last part where the professor says that the findings are inconclusive and at a very early stage, they will actually quote it as final and irreversible truth.
Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians that do not be alarmed. That is what fake news does, it alarms people, to feel that they are in imminent danger. We can selectively quote passages of scripture and religious writings and create alarm. A faith built on alarm is not a solid faith! A faith built on alarm is not a faith that will last long. A faith built on alarm is a faith built on fear more than a love for God. Fear works faster and gives instant results and this is what highly drives fake news. Faith built on fear fades as fast as it was built.
Alarming news cannot be taught by anyone else because only the perpetrator understands it. We can borrow copies of their teachings but it becomes difficult to share because its based on a lie that defies logic and clear interpretation. Therefore we can only listen and depend on its perpetrator.
Alarming news creates a congregation that only responds to alarm and not sensible information. It creates evangelists who can only share an alarming word because of its features to attract and scare. It creates a weak basis for believing in God and His word. It becomes a non-interactive way of evangelising as people are left to respond to fear generated by the alarm, instead of responding to the Holy Spirit’s pleading. Fake news depends on the fear it causes and not on the work of the Holy spirit in the heart.
Apostle Paul writes that do not be alarmed and do not let anyone deceive you. The deception being addressed was within the church. The deception of fake news today is still in the church. Beware of fake news!
A christian who cannot respond to a simple word of God and believe it, but instead is only moved by alarming teachings is in great danger of being deceived. A christian who forwards scary pictures and news that is unverified is immature. “Forwarded as received” becomes an excuse for being in solidarity with the liars.
Prosperity preaching is as false as alarming prophetic teachings that alarm people. While prosperity preachers aim at our greed and desire to have material success, preachers of alarming prophecies aim at our fears of persecution. The basis of the response becomes greed or fear. God doesn’t expect us to respond to Him in greed or fear, but in love and reverence.
May God save us from alarming news dependence and appetite, may God open our eyes to be solidly built on Him our rock. May God forgive us for sharing fake news that was unverified. May God give us an unshakeable faith as we look forward to His soon return, in Jesus name, Amen!(c)firstname.lastname@example.org (do not delete any part of this post, including this. You are free to share these posts but do not edit the authorship or content…thank you and be blessed!)