I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said: DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK. It’s not often a bumper sticker elicits more than a smile from me, but this one genuinely caused me to stop and ponder.
The words hit me, probably, because of the angst over fake news we’ve all been feeling these past few months. It seems that for every side, one person’s truth is another person’s fake news. But are there times we broadcast ‘fake news’ to ourselves on our very own 24/7 channel, ME-TV?
What I found fascinating about that bumper sticker is that it so simply summed up, for me, what Christ Jesus’s earth mission was about. He was constantly bombarded with fake news of every kind: I’ve been blind since birth! I can’t walk! My daughter is dead! There’s no fish to catch in this entire godforsaken sea! Exclamation points—I’m sure—at the end of every statement.
The word ‘statement’ is a key point to consider—as in, were these reports Jesus heard actually statements of fact? While those around Jesus—and most today—might have considered them ‘factually accurate,’ it’s fair to say Jesus had the annoying (for some) habit of having the final word. Seeing the blind man as unconditionally loved and cared for by God allowed Jesus to heal him; the lame person? Yeah, he walked; Jairus’s little girl sat up and spoke, quite undead; and those vexed fishermen, including Peter, could barely pull their nets from the water after Jesus turned to God’s view, calling out their fake news.
As a Christian Scientist I’ve had some success dealing with fake news, though I always need more practice. I think back to a ski accident I had during eleventh grade, when a nasty fall on some ice damaged the knuckle of my writing hand’s thumb. That news felt pretty real, I can assure you, and my parents deemed it serious enough that they took me to the hospital (my exams were coming up, and I needed my hand to write with). All I remember from that visit was a kindly doctor, and his diagnosis that there wasn’t much he could do.
Fast forward six years and I was going into my third year of university in Waterloo, Ontario. I became involved with a multi-denominational prayer group, and by this time I was used to living (and writing) with my crooked thumb, though I couldn’t bend the knuckle more than forty-five degrees. However, after three months of inspired prayer and countless stimulating conversations with people from various Christian faiths, I felt encouraged to reconsider what I accepted as news. I was sitting at my desk one day, studying for final exams, when I suddenly felt enveloped by God’s infinite Love. I glanced down at my thumb and, through tears of joy, saw that it looked exactly like it had before the accident.
The fascinating thing was I hadn’t been trying to heal my thumb; but making room for God in my heart enabled me to feel God’s unconditional love—to the point where I felt it thoroughly—and healing was the result. Or as Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, “If sin, sickness, and death were understood as nothingness, they would disappear. As vapor melts before the sun, so evil would vanish before the reality of good.”
Put another way, it took six years for me to realize the reports about my thumb being deformed—as broadcast 24/7 on ME-TV—was actually fake news.
What fake news are you buying into?
Matt Jackson has been fascinated by how science and religion relate to each other for as long as he can remember. He is a member of the Christian Science church in Victoria, BC, and has been a professional writer and editor for 22 years.
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* Rgus article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, April 22 2017