I have no doubt the majority of people reading this, certainly in South Africa, have had a letter from ‘my friend Victor’ whose niece is a pharmacologist in Italy, who tells us all how to behave in the second week of lockdown if we aren’t all to die an excruciating death.
Well intentioned advice, possibly accurate. But who is Victor? And who is his niece? On what authority does she speak?
Most important: Why do we believe them?
There has been an abundance of these well-meaning, or maybe not so well-intentioned, epistles doing the rounds, all purporting to be from someone, usually nameless, certainly unidentifiable, who knows something the rest of us does not. They are sometimes given nebulous titles, but as they are nameless, their credentials cannot be checked.
It seems everyone I know accepts them at face value, believes them implicitly, and reacts by immediately forwarding them to everyone they can think of. I have had the ‘Victor’ one 7 times now.
“Enough!” I cry. Time for common sense to prevail.
I am currently reading the book of Acts and having a good giggle at the stir Paul caused all through Asia. Reminded me so much of here – unruly crowds causing huge commotion, the majority having no idea what they are shouting about, but adamant justice should be done. The authorities time and again shrug their shoulders at such shenanigans in those early days after the advent of our Lord.
In amongst those tales, in Chapter 19 vv 13 to 16, we hear about Jewish exorcists taking it upon themselves to call on the name of Jesus to exorcise spirits. Here is what happened:
V15. The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
And then proceeded to beat them up.
Even the Devil knows to ask: Who are you? What is your qualification to act in this case? Who are you representing? Where is your evidence?
Here we are, in a crisis of global proportions, and we are running around like headless chickens believing every bit of nonsense that appears on our cell screens, without asking the most obvious of questions: Who is this person? On what authority do they speak? What company or institution do they represent? How can we trust their credentials?
Without knowing these basic facts, how do I trust you?
If there is no answer to any of those questions, you have to figure out that the ‘facts’ they present are dubious, not to be trusted.
In some cases overworked medical personnel are having their time wasted in order to put out the flames caused by these messages, such as the one purporting to be from the Head of Virology at Groote Schuur. That was a corker! A nasty, twisted, ten minutes that should get her a life time sentence for the fear she generated in the hearts of all who heard that message.
Wicked, wicked scare mongering for what purpose? I praise God for a President who has outlawed fake news and look forward to seeing convictions soon.
Another one that is causing a mighty stir, particularly among the residents of our neighbour, Eswatini, from whence I was first sent the clip, is the 5G story. ‘Pastor Jonathan’, again no surname, no way of checking his authenticity, claims there is no Corona virus, only radiation poisoning by 5G. The good people of Eswatini have fallen so hook, line and sinker for this, they have started a petition to prevent the rolling out of 5G.
I am not going to go into that here, but this link will answer every claim made by the unidentifiable Pastor Jonathan:
King David when preparing his son Solomon to take over the reins of power, directed him in Proverbs to seek Wisdom, get Understanding for very good reason.
Proverbs 2, vv 6-9:
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8. He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.
9. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.
Saints, do not be fooled. Be wise. Ask simple questions, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and guard against the fear tactics and scare mongering of the world.
Paul writing in 1 Thessalonians, 5 v 21 says: “Test all things; hold fast to what is good.”
The beloved apostle John, in his first letter, 1 John 4 v 1 instructs us:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Continue reading to verse 6.
We need to use this time wisely, to draw into our Lord, learn from Him, be His light to the world, beacons of hope and love, not harbingers of gloom, doom and despair.
There are good sites where you can find accurate information. The World Health Organisation has all the information you need. The South African Government COVID-19 site is a little slow on uploading the latest data, but the information is sound.
Do not be fooled, be wise, keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and use what sense the Father has given you to discern what is true and what is fantasy.
Be blessed, stay safe.