By DANNY MINTON
It was the week before Christmas 1965 that a Dallas Morning News article came out with me receiving the game ball for our team’s AA state football championship. I was lying in my hospital bed with a broken vertebra in my neck the week before and didn’t get to play in the final game. The game was to be broadcast on a local radio station, but for some reason we couldn’t get the signal at the hospital, so I didn’t get to hear it and didn’t know we had won until a call from my family who was at the game in Austin.
Now, back to the article. It was a good article with a picture of me lying in bed and several of my teammates handing me the game ball. The article went on with a lot of “heartwarming” thoughts then quoted me with sayings about the game. The interesting thing was that I didn’t make most of the quotes attributed to me. I hadn’t even heard the game and only part of a replay. It made for a good story, but not wholly accurate. I’m positive, however, that everyone who read that article, except me, believed that I had said what the newspaper quoted. It made no difference to the fate of the world or anyone in it, but it has gone down in history as fact.
People are gullible. We all are in one way or another. Advertisers know this about people and use it to their advantage to sell those products that will make us look younger, skinnier, and attractive. Somewhere in our life, we have probably all bought something that we thought was fantastic and only turned out to be disappointing.
A year later, Kathy and I took some friends from Alaska to the State Fair of Texas. As we browsed through the midway, a man was demonstrating a little “mechanical” mouse that would move around on his arms, across his chest, and down the other arm. The mouse moved with ease and grace as the pitchman demonstrated it. Our friends thought they were great, so bought several to take back and sell at a profit to others back home. After the purchase and opening the package, the item was simply a little rubber mouse with a nylon thread attached, which the man through hours of practice had mastered.
Facebook is full of false news stories. Political news, current events, gossip, etc., whether on TV or written, are, more often than not, written from the bias of the presenters. Quotes are taken out of context, incomplete information is shared, or misleading comments are printed. To many, their gullibility is to believe what they read without even checking things out. Others go to the other extreme to not believe anything they hear or read at first glance. As a result, we all read and listen to what we agree with and give little attention to other views. We seek out and share those things that support us instead of looking at all the facts.
Unfortunately, many people approach studying the Bible and what God wants in our lives that way. As is often the case, people will have an idea or belief and then begin their Bible study to find ways to prove what they believe. Instead of seeking to see the truth, they want to make the Word fit what they want to be true. One of my professors related a story of speaking to a woman about a passage from the book of James. The woman adamantly proclaimed that that passage was not in her Bible. When asked to see her Bible to prove that it contained the verse, he was proven wrong. Her Bible did not include the verse. She had cut it out.
Many people today view God’s Word as outdated. “This is the 21st century; times have changed!” Some call for the Bible to be updated to coincide with today’s viewpoints. People fail to realize that God’s Word, the Bible, was not meant to be changed by people, but to change people. It’s the one constant in the lives of mankind that never changes. The Hebrew writer wrote, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:7-8 (NASB)
You can watch Fox News or CNN or MSNBC and hear different views of the same story. You can read Facebook, watch your Twitter accounts, and view whatever social media account you have and gather bias input on what is happening in your world. The viewpoints and opinions will change “like the wind.” However, if you are serious about what things matter in your life, sit down, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, and open your Bible to the Gospel According to John and begin reading, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5 (NASB)
If we fill our lives with the light of Jesus, there is no room for the darkness that men bring. Darkness does not exist where the light shines.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Thanks for the reminder to be wise and discerning in the midst of false and misleading information.