Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.Matthew 10:16 (MSG)
We are better than this. We have to be!
In fact, the Bible specifically commands us to be wise, to be on our guard, for the false, divisive, evil ways of man that tend to take away from the strength we have in the Truth.
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.Proverbs 24:5
So I ask: what strength comes from sharing inflammatory posts with no basis in fact?
In Ephesians 5:11-16, we’re commanded not to waste our time on useless work, the pursuits of darkness. Also, we’re called to expose those things for the sham that they are, to “Rip the cover off those frauds….”
And so, let’s do that. Starting right now. I’ll share an example of something I did this week, to expose a false statement that was being shared on social media to a Christian community.
The other day, this came across my Facebook feed, shared by someone I truly respect as a Christian and a successful business person.
Immediately, warning bells went off. Why? Not out of love and support for President Obama. But because it just didn’t seem plausible that such a statement would be made by Obama. I did what I would encourage everyone to do.
I looked at the originator of the post. It wasn’t a name that I was familiar with, so I wasn’t confident that their sole purpose was not to deceive – something Facebook has been a heavily used vehicle for.
I did a search to find other reports on the event. If you are following along, do a search for “Obama ‘you can’t wait for a saviour’ “. Your search should return something similar to this:
Note that I first started with typing the text into www.Snopes.com, and came up with nothing. To me, that meant that it wasn’t something that was being widely promoted. Another red flag – if it hasn’t been picked up enough to warrant any research by Snopes, it’s probably a “troll” focused on a subset of the internet audience.
About halfway down the search results, I saw what I was looking for: a transcript! I copied the text into Microsoft Word and searched for the word “saviour”, because I wanted to read what was said, in the context in which it was said.
That doesn’t read like someone professing that we don’t need a Saviour (capital ‘S’) or Messiah (capital “M”), does it? Rather, he’s stating a very reasonable suggestion – stop looking to the government (or anyone in the government) for a solution. We, the people, as part of our democracy, are the solution. You can infer from that, reasonable, that people of prayer have a stronger hand in that democracy.
And, if one wanted to insist on taking him exactly for the words he said, look at how he ended his speech.
Again, not the statement of someone who is espousing a disregard for Christ. Regardless of your politics, I believe it is reasonable to see that the post took his statement entirely out of context solely for the purpose of inciting a negative reaction towards President Obama and sowing seeds of discord. And everyone who shared that post is just as guilty, if not moreso, if they didn’t take account for what they were sharing to their Facebook community.
I was hesitant at first to write this, because I was really upset and disappointed that fellow Christians are allowing themselves to be used like this. But I believe I have just as much of a responsibility to express my faith and beliefs as they do, even if it conflicts with or (in this case) calls out the wrong they are perpetuating.
My hope is that this is received positively. Again, there is way too much false and misleading statements being shared on social media. We, as Christians, shouldn’t be part of that. Our ability to witness and represent Christ is harmed when we are characterized as gullible, partisan, and lacking of basic accountability for the things we say and share.