Every person wants to know the truth. How much more is this heightened when we are unsure of the truth, wandering into uncharted territory, anxious to set our feet down on something stable! Right now, our livelihoods are threatened, our health is at risk, and no one knows when normal is coming back. We are hungry for answers, for truth.
Ironically, this hunger for truth is exactly what drives so many to fake news, misleading information, and conspiracy theories. They’re promising answers––and sometimes, they confirm what we’ve suspected, what we’ve wanted to believe! And besides the answers we’ve been wanting to hear, they assure us that we’re the insiders with the truth (that The Media wants to destroy). They even offer us the adventure our solitary lives are missing.
Now God is not only the Truth (John 14:6), but He also commands us to pursue and to safeguard the truth. In the Ten Commandments He says, You shall not give false testimony (Exodus 20:16). Proverbs repeats how abominable a false witness is (Proverbs 19:5, 9; 21:28; 24:28; 25:18), Jesus reminds his inquirers that false testimony is still bad (Matthew 15:19, 19:18), and Moses spells out how God’s people are to purge the evil of false witnesses from their midst (Deuteronomy 19:16-20). But evil people keep putting this commandment to the test (cp. Matthew 26:59-60 and Mark 14:56, Acts 6:13, 2 Corinthians 11:13), never in their favor.
On the contrary, in the pursuit of truth, God gives positive directions: a single witness shall not suffice … only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established (Deut. 19:15). So whether it’s a murder whodunit (Deut. 17:6); some other heinous crime (Hebrews 10:28); cases of sexual immorality in the church (2 Corinthians 13:1); or any wrong that someone does against you, according to Jesus (Matthew 18:16); it’s got to be backed up by the evidence of two or three witnesses. When it’s a serious crime, the witnesses have to be there. When it’s something questionable between just you and your brother, the witnesses have to be there. Faithful testimony matters to God.
So to those who are reading and who fear God, I urge you: confirm your stories with two or three faithful witnesses before you go forward. Do you have something to send in to the Journal? Make sure it passes muster––or at least put it forward as simply your point of view. Did you see something on Facebook that confirms what you’ve suspected all along? Maybe wait a day or two before you hit that Share button. The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17).
If your neighbors find you to be a false witness on smaller things, like the coronavirus, how will anyone find you trustworthy when it comes to something as big as … eternal life?
(Thanks to Joe Forrest for his thoughts on what make conspiracy theories attractive: you can see what he’s written at https://instrumentofmercy.com/2020/05/07/why-your-christian-friends-and-family-members-are-so-easily-fooled-by-conspiracy-theories/.)