The Conspiracies of Chicken Little
Never before have so many been so informed about so much with so little verification. Lately, in-boxes and Facebook feeds have been filled to over-flowing with warnings about how quickly our government and culture are falling apart. It’s getting a bit overwhelming.Most insidious are the articles that take the merest fact and blow it out of proportion until every other headline reads “The Sky is Falling—and It Ain’t Cause Jesus is Returning!” Call it the “Christian” version of the Enquirer. The problem with these posts is that they warn of impending doom as if written by the Old Testament prophets of God. And Christians repost these articles with the same fervor. Some of the articles turn out to be true. Universal healthcare is and will continue to be a disaster for many.But do the articles need to be spread? Which ones? What does the Bible have to say about it? Could an ancient text be relevant to Facebook posts? Here are some things to consider:Is the message truth based on facts? Or endless speculation?First Timothy 1:4 charges Christians not to “devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” The passage is about preaching the gospel and being a good steward of the gospel. But it applies to every subject. Verses 6 and 7 conclude: “Certain persons, by swerving from theses, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” Is it biblical to spread the news of someone else’s speculation as if it is truth?If the story is factual, are you publicizing it because of emotionalism or because you have a solution? While there were some pretty entertaining demonstrations in D.C. during the government shutdown, there were far more posts about the injustice of it all than there were solutions. And the only Christian organization informing people how to survive universal healthcare seems to be Medi-Share. It’s bad manners to declare that the sky is falling without at least pointing out the need for an umbrella.Does the article disrespect the character of a person or merely present the facts? In Matthew 5:22, Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” There is a difference between judging a man’s actions in comparison to what the Bible teaches and roundly condemning him for a fool. And it is slander (Leviticus 19:16) to speak lies about someone. Do you, personally, know for a fact that the article is true?Are you disrespecting a civil authority whom God has placed in power? David spared King Saul’s life because he was God’s anointed—despite the many times King Saul had tried to kill him (1 Samuel 24). Daniel showed respect to evil King Belshazzar even while he prophesied his doom (Daniel 5). Pilate had Jesus tortured and ordered him to be crucified, but Jesus showed no disrespect; in fact it was in part because He didn’t disrespect the Roman government that the Jews wanted Him killed (Matthew 27). Paul, when unjustly brought to trial in front of the high priest, said, “‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people”‘” (Acts 23:5). With these as our examples, why should we do less?If you have presented an article of speculation and warning as fact and it turns out to be wrong, will you apologize? If you predict something will happen and it doesn’t, not only have you lied, you have proved yourself to be a false prophet. The Bible lists serious consequences for those who claim to know what they do not know (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).Are you complaining when you should be praying? What will help the situation more—to publically spread the word that a person has done wrong, or to pray that they will accept the love and healing of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit? I Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” And Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”What’s your motivation? Second Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” The truth is, God still reigns. None of this is a surprise to Him. While it is fine to investigate, indulging in conspiracy theories out of fear or titillation is vanity. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:29, 31). There is a time and a way to reveal the wrong actions of others, but it should always be done with respect, accuracy, and love. These are scary times and we need hard solutions, not Chicken Littles.