The Gutenberg Bible on display
One of the messages I’ve listened to lately mentioned “the greatest story never told”. Of course, this is a play on words from The Greatest Story Ever Told, which ostensibly is about the Gospel. The problem, of course, is that the traditional version of “the Gospel” falls well short of the entire story.
Stories make things memorable. Stories are easier to digest and understand than a list of facts and figures. It is why lists of genealogies in the Bible are rarely very exciting.
The Bible as a whole, however, is a story. It is the story of God’s dealings with humanity. That may sound obvious, but to critics (and sometimes even supporters) of the text, this is often conveniently ignored. That’s why things like “In the beginning” really need some context. After all, when speaking of God, there is no such thing as a beginning! No, the point of Genesis 1:1 was that God pre-existed humanity, and it introduces God as the main actor in the history and affairs of human beings.
As the speaker pointed out, wrong stories can have an impact just as much as stories about the truth, however. This got me to thinking. Fairy tales are fairly easy to remember, not just because of the simple plots but also because they are engaging for young children. Same holds for stories about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc. Even the Nativity scenes put up at Christmas time are fairly well flawed because the story has been distorted quite a bit.
That is, perhaps, obvious to you, but my thoughts did not end there. One of my pet peeves is when people blindly forward email stories that are either totally untrue or at best are dubious. Take the stories about Albert Einstein supposedly putting the professor in his place. Same thing happens on Facebook, although it is easier to just plain unfriend people who refuse to stop.
Snopes.com is your friend. Enemies of Snopes.com have tried, rather unsuccessfully I should add, to discredit them, but all but a few of them are pretty well balanced. The thing about it, though, is just because it is rated “true” doesn’t mean the version you have is the same! It also means that people have caught on and will claim, “Snopes says it’s true”, when in reality it does not.
It means not being lazy. If you really cannot be bothered to look it up, then don’t bother forwarding it. If you forward a lie, you are a liar, and there is no way around that fact. It is exactly the same as gossip.
My own mother used to be guilty of forwarding the Albert Einstein email. As I relate in “Lying for Jesus“, however, that does not reflect well upon a God of truth. She honestly had trouble understanding it, though, and even asked, “Why would someone lie about that?” It was a foreign idea that someone would claim to be a Christian and tell a lie, but the sad truth is that there are enough in this world that would desire to show all Christians as being unthinking, gullible idiots that one must be wary of “Christian” stories perhaps even more than some others.
So, yes, stories are very powerful. That’s why we must stop and THINK about them before passing them along. After all, we should be filling ourselves with and passing along stories of truth, not of false events and false ideas. You know, THINK:
Before passing along something, ask if it is:
T – true
H – helpful
I – inspiring
N – necessary
K – kind
If it is none of these things, then how would you like it passed along about you? How does God feel about passing along something that violates this?
We must stand for truth. We must ingest truth. We must speak truth. We must act in truth and love. For Our God is a God of truth.
And, we are commanded to pass along truth to the next generation, which I just covered to some degree in the last post “‘Impress Them on Your Children’“.
There is a scripture: Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
After near two thousand years of Christianity there’s plenty of Christian fables to go around and by the looks of some of your email as you have described it; there’s plenty more modern ones too.
I can only hope many of those sending around this kind of material are at the far bottom end of the learning curve and God gives them the time to figure out, exercise the ability of how to tell the difference between the truth and lying fiction.