A few years ago, late one afternoon at work, my phone rang and it was a journalist from a well-known newspaper.
She explained she was writing a story about a church which was hiring out its building to be used for art exhibitions and charity fashion shows. Sunday services would carry on as normal but parishioners would be worshipping in the middle of charity art displays.
‘Any thoughts on this?’ she asked.
Knowing she wasn’t really asking for my ‘thoughts’ but was fishing for a comment she could print (with my name), I explained we didn’t comment on issues like these, but I did know someone else who could help.
As I started digging out the details of a Christian blogger, the journalist explained what she was looking for.
‘Specifically, I want a comment from someone who will be outraged at this misuse of a sacred place.’
‘Sounds like you’ve already written your story’, I said (jokingly).
‘Yes’, she agreed, (missing the joke) ‘I just need a comment from someone to back it up.’
To be honest, it’s likely my Christian blogger contact would have taken a different point of view. He probably would have said it was a good way for the church to engage with the community and to raise funds for an important cause.
But this was not the story the journalist was writing. ‘Church raises money for charity’ doesn’t sell newspapers. ‘Christians outraged at church’s destruction of sacred space’ is a much better headline.
Headlines like these provoke anger, petitions, boycotts and sometimes a Social Media frenzy. Sometimes the anger is justified. Sometimes it’s not.
But for the newspaper, it often means their content is shared globally, resulting in huge hits on their website and that, (longer term) helps them to sell advertising.
So with that in mind, I’m watching the ‘Easter egg’ story unfold with interest and I’m reading carefully around all the issues.
It’s possible there is a subtle shift to remove Christian connotations from a holiday, which marks the death and amazing resurrection of Jesus.
It’s possible that Christian values are being slowly taken over by commercial interests.
It’s also possible that some media outlets are making a great deal of money from a sense of online outrage.
I’m not saying the outrage is wrong or unjustified. But, knowing there are always different unseen agendas, it’s wise to look at different sides of a story before deciding what is ‘truth’.
I was reading Psalm 1 this morning and particularly liked the Amplified version;
“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).” PSALM 1:1 AMP
To me this says, ‘don’t follow the in-crowd or what’s popular or trending. Instead look to God and His Word for your wisdom and your path’.
In other words, don’t believe what the newspapers say, believe what God’s Word says.
In a world where whole companies, lives and organisations can be shattered by something as simple as a misunderstood tweet, it’s wise to do our research and background reading, before accepting a headline or the ‘counsel’ we find on Social Media.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example].
The Bible is the one solid book of inspired wisdom that has no agenda, doesn’t play games, sell advertising or benefit from whipping up false emotion.
But, it is, a ‘light for our paths’, a safe place to run when nothing makes sense, and the truest bit of real news you’ll ever read. Its pages contain life, wisdom and words which can totally transform our thinking and life. When we look at life and headlines through the lens of what God is saying, everything takes on a new perspective.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t feel upset or that we should avoid expressing an opinion online, but reading the Bible helps to give us discernment.
It becomes our truth barometer, helping us to tell the difference between real news and fake news.