Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 102; 148, Isaiah 10:5-19, 2 Peter 2:17-22, Matthew 11:2-15
There’s a lot of real news about fake news – but it’s old news.
2 Peter warned the faithful against false teachings circulating among them. It cautioned them against listening to teachings that appealed to their baser natures –that approved of licentiousness and corruption. Many gentile converts were used to fertility cults and temple prostitution, and the lure remained. When certain teachers coopted Jesus’s name to say pretty all this was permissible, many thought they could return to their old ways.
According to Matthew, Jesus may not have been what John was expecting. Never one to soften a message for popularity’s sake, John held a hard line on God’s coming judgment. When Jesus started a ministry revealing God’s judgment would be expressed through mercy, John questioned what he heard. John asked Jesus to confirm he was the real thing. If that makes his commitment seem wishy-washy, remember self-proclaimed messiahs had been popping up with startling regularity.
How do we know when news about faith or current events is fake? Our first clue is that it perfectly confirms everything we want to believe. When it tells us we are biased against the right people, or that our foes fit every stereotype we would layer upon them … it’s probably fake. When it doesn’t challenge us to change in any ways that make us unhappy or uncomfortable … it’s probably fake. If it makes us feel righteous in our anger, hatred, or cowardice … it’s probably fake.
“But I know the difference,” we might say. Smart people of all political persuasions are duped by fake news. Well-meaning Christians have been bilked by charlatans since the first person realized there was profit in it. Like John the Baptist, we can be both faithful and skeptical. How did Jesus confirm his identity? By sending this message to John: “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”
The fruits of truth are reconciliation and healing. Let us devour them hungrily, and reject what poisons our spirits.
Comfort: You can discern the truth…
Challenge: … but you may have to work a little harder at it.
Prayer: God of Truth, lead me in Your ways. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever fallen for a fake news story? What about?
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