Wise Ones Still Discern

On December 4, 2016, a North Carolina gunman entered a Washington, D.C. restaurant to “investigate” some information he read on social media. He believed a “fake news” story was real news and went to self-investigate and administer justice. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but this is scary stuff.  Websites, such as snopes.com combat Internet fake news every day so you can check snopes.com to find out if the news you read and receive in email is fake news. However, social media users currently invent and perpetuate fake news faster than reasonable folk can correct and debunk it.

Some newly elected officials who’ve mastered manipulation used fake news throughout their campaigns to score the votes from the unsuspecting and easily deceived. My advice is do not believe everything you hear or read. To combat fake news, you can also support reliable media sources.

Traditional news agencies have been greatly impacted by the shift to online media, but old style reporting by educated professionals continues to be a social necessity. When layoffs impact a news producer, the fact-checkers and proofreaders are often the first to receive pink slips. However, they have essential roles. We need reliable and trustworthy news.

The invention and proliferation of fake news is actually not new news. King Herod famously circulated some fake news after the birth of Jesus. When the Magi entered the land of Israel in search of the One the stars indicated would be king, Herod learned of their border crossing and requested that they meet with him in Jerusalem. Upon hearing that the foreigners followed the star of the King of the Jews, Herod the Great deposited some fake news, “Wonderful, and when you find him return to me with the baby’s GPS coordinates [my paraphrase] that I too may go and worship him.”

The first century headlines would have read, “Herod Seeks Baby to Worship.”

However, something about Herod strikes the wise men as peculiar. They discern that they should travel another route home and neglect to mention the cradle location to anyone as they journey on their way.

The angel of the Lord provides Joseph with the real story. Herod plans to murder the baby. Therefore, “Gather up your family and get out of town fast. Don’t stop running until you cross the Sinai [my paraphrase]and enter into Egypt.”

Fake news stories in our own day might also become a matter of life and death. We must be diligent, and we must pray for discernment—which is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Truth exists, and the spiritually discerning can still find it and spread it.

Herod sought a baby;  that much of the fake news story was true, but he was selfish and prideful and wanted to kill the boy rather than worship him.

Thank God for the discernment of wise men (and women) who can still find Jesus and discern fake news!