Fake News. We’ve all heard the stories about fake news. If you tend to be conservative, you find fake news that fits your own perspective and shout it from the mountaintops. If you tend to be liberal, you find fake news that fits your own perspective and shout it from the mountaintops. Sometimes, I think that the same person writes all the stories with minor changes in each one to skew it towards their intended audience. They don’t care, they’re just happy that you click on the story and they can make their money from the ads that run on their site. You get the satisfaction of having your beliefs validated whether or not your beliefs are true. We all love the fake news sites that support our beliefs, but understand that “they” are looking at fake news sites that just give bad information.
We all like to hear news that supports our beliefs and opinions. Isn’t it nicer to hear that we’re right than to have people challenge our beliefs. We don’t seek out those challenges that might make us think, and when people do challenger our beliefs, either directly or indirectly, we have no trouble thinking about them as ignorant fools. After all, if they knew and understood the truth, they’d agree with me. Or, coming from the opposite side of that argument, you could say something like, “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” Isn’t T-shirt theology wonderful? There is a sense of pride in the belief that we know everything and don’t need differing opinions to learn new stuff. Paul described such a time. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Sound doctrine isn’t always fun. Because of that, people don’t enjoy sound doctrine. Doctrine needs to be made exciting, for this world that gets bored the minute someone loses focus. Sound doctrine reminds us of what Jesus did for us, but also compels us to godly behavior, and sometimes, other things seem like more fun. Paul knew that. He really did an amazing job of describing our time when he talked about the very thing that was happening to the early church. People rejected sound doctrine so that they could hear the things that suited their own desires. Teachers that catered to the desires of the people were able to get a big following; those who taught sound doctrine did so to empty buildings. People would listen to these teachers whose teachings would scratch their ears, but not change their heart, and once they took care of the ears, they could get them to believe anything they were taught. It was a problem in the early church and it’s still a problem today.
If you want to make a lot of money as a preacher, it’s really not too hard. Get followers on social media, write books that they can buy that will affirm their desires, quote God’s word in benign fashion but never challenge them, and make them feel all warm and cozy about themselves. Isn’t feeling good about ourselves the goal in life? You might guess that if you listened to some of the teaching that makes it into public. God’s word should challenge us. It should inspire us to new actions in service and commitment to Him. No person, no church, has a perfect belief system, and if they do, they aren’t always acting on it like they should. If you are not being challenged by God’s word when you read it, when you hear it preached, or when you try to put it in action, Paul may have been talking about you. Let me challenge you today to seek out an understanding of God’s word different from your own. Examine it in the light of the Bible. Then, either change, or have your belief confirmed. In all things, follow God’s word.
Lord, Your ways can be hard. Help me to follow You, and not seek those who would satisfy my desires.