Rumour Has It

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Reflect

Over the last few months, we’ve been overwhelmed with information about COVID-19. As well as sound advice, there’s been a wealth of fake news and misinformation (see earlier post). Was the virus unleashed on purpose? Can it be cured by Drug X? Can I forget about social distancing if I’ve recently eaten marshmallows dipped in Vegemite?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has taken the matter so seriously, that they’ve put together resources about the dangers of conspiracy theories and how to stop their spread.

Some rumours might start out innocently enough. Someone may have actually seen or heard something, but they’ve misinterpreted it and passed it on to others. Before long, it’s spread like Chinese whispers, changing a little with each telling. Other rumours are deliberately planted to cause harm.

That was the case in today’s passage. Roman soldiers were placed outside Jesus’ sealed tomb to ensure the disciples could not steal Jesus’ body and pretend that he had been raised from the dead. Imagine how shocked the guards must have been when an angel rolled away the stone and announced that Jesus had indeed risen. Matthew 28:4 says they were so afraid ‘they shook and became like dead men.’

The guards went back to the religious leaders and reported what had happened. How did the chief priests and elders respond to these eyewitness accounts? They immediately tried to quash them. They paid the soldiers a large sum of money to spread the rumour that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body during the night while they were sleeping. The story was ‘widely circulated’ and many still believe it today.

It’s not possible to counteract every piece of false information we come across, but let’s seek God’s wisdom and do our part to stop the proliferation of unfounded rumours when we can.

Pray

Dear Lord, we’re bombarded with so much information that it’s not always easy to tell the truth from the lies. Please help us to think critically about the information we receive and show us the path to truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ponder

Q1       Not all rumours are malicious, but they can still lead us astray. Read John 21:20–23. Why do you think this rumour spread among the believers?

Q2       What can we do when we hear something, or spot something on social media, that we suspect is untrue?

Photo by Javier Rodriguez on Pixabay.

For the UNESCO information about combatting conspiracy theories, click here.

Scriptures taken from the NIV Bible. Click here for the copyright notice.

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6 Responses

  1. Nola, thanks for your insight here. Unfortunately, we cannot be absolutely sure that all we read from the leaders of our nation (and other organisations) is necessarily accurate. Citing the chief priests and elders in their conspiracy to silence the guards’ true account doesn’t necessarily engender trust in leadership. I hope we can trust our PM, I think he is doing a great job. And count me a conspiracy theorist but where there is smoke…
    Of course, whether or not there is a conspiracy, we know the evil one is doing his darnedest to subvert God’s plan, not realising he is in fact part of it.
    God bless you in your insightfulness.

    1. Thanks for those thoughts, Ray. It is hard to know what’s true and what’s not, as there are so many conflicting things in the media. Some things can be fairly easily verified or debunked with a little searching. However, there is so much that’s difficult to wade through. I guess that’s where prayer and discernment come in. I’ll be saying a bit more about that in next week’s devotion. It’s certainly a controversial topic and I appreciate your comment.

    1. Thanks for that, Sue. Yes, we need to engage those critical thinking muscles and be open to other perspectives. Very difficult to change people’s entrenched opinions, but hopefully we can play our part. I’ll say a bit more about that next week. Thanks for commenting.

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