The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

I try and follow the news to stay up to date with what is happening in the world. I view the news media as presenting the basic facts about something but understand that it can be done from a particular perspective or angle. We quickly learn which papers or TV programmes have which perspective and people then choose the ‘brand’ of news they want. This is particularly evident in columnist’s or opinion pieces or ‘in depth’ articles and it has always been part of editorials. What I have found fascinating online are the comments people make in response – supportive, thankful, encouraging, critical, con-demnatory, dismissive – and lots more.

I’ve just read two articles – one about the Olympics and the other about the US presidential election candidates – and on face value the stories did what the authors intended – get me to see the topic from their point of view. I accepted the premise of truthfulness and ‘believed’ what I read. I would have wanted further corroboration before I testified about the topics in a courtroom but I finished reading the articles think-ing I had read the truth. Then came the comments. Well, it seems that one article was in fact largely incorrect – the comments contained scathing responses but more impor-tantly links and other proofs to challenge key points. The other article wasn’t challenged for its truthfulness but for its myopia. The comments that challenged the article all wanted to say that the ‘big picture’ was ignored and thus the article might be true but it was more propaganda rather newsworthy.

So what should I believe now about the topics of the articles? Well, from one article I’m siding with the group that suggests that the author ‘got it wrong’ and the consequence is that I will be much more cautious about reading anything the author writes again. From the other article I saw that political parti-sanship is alive and well and the ‘evidence’ is almost – not quite – but almost irrelevant. Neither of these topics or the truth about them affects my life much at all. It might be good to know about them but not essential for me.

It is when things are essential for us – maybe with our health, our relationships, specific decisions with major consequences, and our search for meaning – that we start not only taking notice of what is said but also of the evidence available and of our own experience and of who is talking to us and their credibility. I can imagine how hard it is for someone who doesn’t believe in God to then believe – and then the question arises – in which God?

What is said about God? When is it said? Why? What is the evidence? Who is talking to us? Are they credible? (What do they want from us?) Religion can’t claim special privilege and hide from such ques-tions. How easy would it be for the authorities to produce the body of Jesus when the disciples claimed they had seen the Lord? Very easy – if he was still dead. The same questions can be asked of atheism – and I think the answers offered for this faith are pretty tenuous.

Christianity has answers for all the questions thrown at it. There is a lot of evidence to go with those answers. The people who tell the news can be part of the story as well but their credibility is based in sin, repentance, and forgiveness (which is a problem when the world wants signs of ‘success’). And the message is spoken into a world of innumerable opinions and comments – supportive and hostile. That’s how it always has been. Coming to faith in Jesus isn’t mechanical or magical – it is a wonder it happens with all the competing promises of ‘good news’ around – yet the Kingdom of God continues to grow in this world. The Holy Spirit continues to work through words, water, bread and wine to bring people to faith in Jesus and to help them grow in that faith. GS