Have You Heard?

Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

Did you hear the news? You probably have.

One of the realities of life these days is we must all learn how to cope with the proliferation of “news” that comes our direction.

In days gone by, the delivery of “news” was understood to be under the control of “professionals.” There was an implicit understanding that journalists and reporters would be held accountable to discover the facts, verify them, and deliver them to us in an unbiased fashion. This was true whether it was delivered via written text or in oral reporting. The major news outlets and networks built their reputations on the credibility of those who told us this news. Those who are older among us will clearly remember how much trust was placed in the word of Walter Cronkite. When he spoke, it was understood that you had just heard the truth. You might also remember the fate and fall of Dan Rather. It was career suicide to mess with the facts.

But that was then.

These days, we are bombarded with news information 24/7. This information still comes at us via TV and print, of course, but it now also comes to us via social media and the internet. There is never a need to wait till the news comes “on”; the news is now always on. The internet has become an unlimited pipeline to disperse information. The advent of social media has allowed all of us to become “journalists” as well as “reporters.” We pass on information as fast as we hear it.

Complicating this further is the explosion of “satirical” and “fake” news sites. Without hesitation, and apparently without conscience, these sites produce and disburse information that they are fully aware is false. Whether done from the motive of humor or something more sinister, they mass produce breaking “stories” that they seek to sell and tell the public.

And now we come back to us… the recipients of this misinformation.

What should you believe? Who can you trust? What is true? What should you pass on to others?

If you don’t think this matters you need to understand that it is now widely acknowledged that our recent election was deeply impacted by the passing of false information regarding the candidates. The stories were conceived by whomever, but it was us, the public, that passed them along via social media. We disbursed the news through our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Seldom did anyone bother to discover the facts or to verify the truth of them. We just compliantly passed them along.

In all fairness, we often pass this information along simply because we believe it is true. The more it plays into our already formed biases, the more certain we are. It must be true because it verifies what we have already come to believe. We don’t question what we have already concluded.

Which reminds me of a quote that a friend recently shared with me. It has caused me to pause and reflect. Please do the same.

“The truth is we are all dead wrong about something we are certain we are right about. The wise person simply realizes they don’t know what that is yet.”

This is why the Scriptures teach us to not believe everything we hear…especially when it comes at the expense of a person!!!

Think about these verses:

“One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Deuteronomy 19:15

“Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Corinthians 13:1

“Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:19-20

The point? Be slow to believe everything you hear and slower yet to pass it along to someone else! Above all, we must be people who tell the truth!

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Have You Heard?

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