How I got through the pandemic and the decisions I made along the way call for a big “thank you” from me to those who went behind the narrative to seek truth. They’re like my heroes the Bereans in Acts 17:11, who, when hit with a novel interpretation of Scripture by Paul, did not dismiss it as misinformation. Instead they went to work and “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
“Every day” they did that, and they did it “eagerly” too. They relished the thought of studying into new information to get to the heart of it. And Paul wasn’t miffed that they were checking him out. He didn’t try to censor them or shut them down for daring to challenge him. Instead, as Luke wrote, “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians.”
And Paul would have heartily agreed with Luke, because in a letter to his young protege, Timothy, he wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Or as The Message phrases that last bit, “laying out the truth plain and simple.” So God approves of those who, in a true Berean spirit, do their homework.
But why was that so important for Timothy to do? Because the social media machine was at full throttle in his day too. Paul’s term for it was “godless chatter,” verse 16, a surprisingly accurate description of much of social media today, including Paul’s prediction that the chattering nonsense “will become more and more ungodly,” verse 16, and it “will spread like gangrene,” verse 17.
It was important, therefore, that Timothy was aware of that, because, as Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:1-2, “The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth.”
Such a world makes seeking truth difficult, as I imagine many investigative journalists found out as they came up against the ineptitude, corruption, propaganda and authoritarian leanings of government, politics, big tech, medicine, and academia during the pandemic.
But Jesus did warn in Matthew 24:24, that “false Christs and fake prophets will appear…to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.” I am deeply thankful, therefore, for the dogged determination of investigative journalists during the pandemic to separate truth from lies. The Berean spirit, thank God, is still alive.