Spread the Word…Good News, Not Fake News
By the Rev. Liam Muller
I’m pretty certain that I’m not the only one to have heard the term “fake news” over the last couple of years (though admittedly it has seemed more like a couple of decades!).
Seemingly anything a certain chief executive disagrees with is deemed “fake news.” Further, publications and networks dedicated to reporting the truth and not state-run propaganda are now called (by said aforementioned chief executive) “Fake News Media.”
Let’s face it: There is, has been and most definitely will be issues taken with what is being reported about the current occupant of the White House by the current occupant of the White House. If he disagrees with something or it shows him in a not-so positive light, his thinking must go, it must be “fake.”
In his much ballyhooed business career and his life prior to becoming president, he could and did say whatever he pleased about whatever topic struck his fancy. I assume some of it was even true. But now, as so-called leader of the free world, what he says matters and what he says can and often does have consequences.
And this leads us to evangelism. (Wow, took me long enough to get here, didn’t it?) What does evangelism have to do with “fake news?” I’m glad you asked.
What does evangelism have to do with “fake news?” I’m glad you asked.
For starters, if “fake news” can be defined as anything one disagrees with or takes umbrage with (as used in the current context), than real news must be, by default, that which one agrees with or at the very least finds agreeable. Similarly, then, one can assume that bad news is something a person doesn’t like or agree with whilst good news is that which a person both likes and agrees with.
Evangelism, as by now you well-know, is all about the Good News and the Good News is good news because we like it (okay, love it is probably more proper) and we agree with it (or find it to be agreeable). Further, and this is of utmost importance, we believe our good news which is the Good News. We believe it because we know it to be the Truth.
Evangelism is all about the Good News.
You see (and I feel as though one day I’ll be telling my grandchildren this in a manner I hope is folksy enough to feel quaint), there was a time when there was the truth, reality and facts and they mattered. How one felt about the truth, reality or a fact didn’t matter at all nor did it change the truth, reality or fact. There were no such things as “alternative facts,” and a person’s feelings held no import when measured against what really is. For example, my feeling that I would really like to believe that I’m thin will never change the reality that is my waistline.
When one speaks in terms of facts there is no room for equivocation, either. For a fact to be a fact it must be universally true, not just true to what I believe or to what shows me in a more positive light.
As budding evangelists, we must believe at the very core of our being that what we are evangelizing is Truth.
As budding evangelists in the Vermont portion of the Jesus Movement, we must believe at the very core of our being that what we are evangelizing is Truth. We must believe that our loving, merciful and forgiving actions are an important way of promoting peace and harmony throughout our communities and throughout the world. And all this begins with our personal beliefs because, as they always do, our beliefs will lead to our actions.
Do you believe in the passionate love of God for all of God’s children? Then act like it. Do you believe in powerfully loving and creating force that is God? Then act like it. Do you believe that you are a beloved child of our loving God? Then act like it.
Too often—far too often if you were to ask me—we get caught in the trappings of our surroundings and are victimized by the hatred and intolerance that surrounds us. To truly evangelize we must rise above this pitfall. Put much more eloquently than I ever could, Michelle Obama famously said, “When they go low, we go high.” Going high—or taking the high road if you prefer—is what evangelism is all about.
This may be hard to believe, but some may not be as accepting of these Truths as we are. They may disparage us and ridicule us and be altogether unpleasant. So be it; this should not change our beliefs and, by natural extension, our actions. Further, and this is truly important for the kind of evangelism I write about, we must honor their opinions and their beliefs just as we would have them honor ours. There really is and can be no other way of addressing those who disagree with us and don’t believe as we do.
Let’s look at an example: You are in your workplace being the loving compassionate person you are, setting an example for others of what it means to be a loving and loved child of God. A discussion opens up with a co-worker (who happens to be an atheist, and proud of it) about religion and faith and things of that ilk. Your co-worker lambasts you and says insulting things about you and derogatory things about what you believe.
You have two choices: You can react defensively, returning insult for insult and anger with anger, which will lead to an uncomfortable truce (at best) and potentially hurt feelings (or worse). What almost assuredly will not be accomplished is a conversion based on anger and insult. On the other hand, you can remain loving and non-defensive, letting your actions exemplify the strength of your convictions. In this way, evangelism becomes more of a process than a quick “fix.”
You see, being loving, compassionate, merciful and forgiving are the best ways of truly evangelizing. All of these are ways of living into the Truth that is the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. But perhaps most importantly, unlike words which more and more can have no meaning and less worth, there is nothing “fake” about our actions and our deeds.
That’s it for this month. Next month—as a sort of preview of our Diocesan Convention—we’ll take a look at how treating others with dignity is perhaps the most important way to go about evangelizing. Until then, spread the word…