Resisting Fake News By RememberingIt is often our experience in life to be told what we should do, without the benefit of being told how to do it. The Institutional Church has told its members for years to go out and win the lost, with the assumption that each person would know how to win the lost. Or, if it did supply training, it was a step-by-step program that looked somewhat like a car salesperson leading a prospective buyer down a path to a decision of buying a car.
However, Jude set a model for all times. First, he has told his readers that they should preserve their beliefs. He shared why they should stand firm in their faith. Why? Because of the Fake News! teachers and their desire to lead them and others into destruction.
With the thought of why to contend for what they had been taught fully vetted, he now turns to how these Jesus followers should preserve what they had been taught. Jude takes his pen in hand and explains to those reading his pithy little letter several strides for them to take in order to really preserve what these first Christian missionaries had taught them about Jesus and how to live into what they had been taught.
He began with his exhortation by reminding them that the First Testament folks and the folks following Jesus were constantly told to think/act on their faith. Namely, to think before they acted. If they had followed this advice before, the chances are that they would not be faced with such drastic decisions now.
Critical Thinking Is Needed
Thinking is a difficult task for most Jesus followers as well as folks in general. We have been so deluded into believing that we do not have to think, all we need to do is feel. Listen to the language of other Jesus followers as they talk. “Feeling” is often a very high priority. Folks are led to believe that so-called pastors or elders can think for us or tell us what to think.
Some members of the body of Christ have chosen to think in a specific way and degrade all others in the body of Christ who tend to think differently. It is 2018 as I write this. Think about the present political climate in USAmerica as a vivid illustration of arguments that degrade each other. Some leaders do not want their followers to think for fear that they may become more informed or educated in a certain area, which would result in the leader no longer having power over the person because his or her ignorance had been eradicated.
I once heard a story about a multi-staffed church where self-education was held as a high value and formal education was seen as a threat. One of the so-called pastors was in opposition to some students in an educational program within the church because it was causing these folks to think on their own and begin to ask questions, a deadly sin in a non-thinking environment, which leads to an outcome of becoming a sound chamber. This individual wanted these students to stop because he was losing power over them and as a result, they were discovering things, which he knew nothing about. He undermined the process of many students until they quit. Thinking is a painful experience. Non-thinking is even worse. It’s stupid!
We certainly need to learn to think for ourselves in ChurchWorld, in the world of education, and in the world of politics. If you are a part of a group, which denies you the real privilege of thinking and questioning what you are being taught, watch out! You may be headed for error in your life. Groupthink is not thinking.
Groupthink can be understood as “a form of decision making characterized by uncritical acceptance of a prevailing point of view. It is a form of collective delusion, where bizarre policies are rationalized collectively and contradictory evidence is discredited. Members of such a group will suffer an illusion of both invulnerability and morality, and construct negative stereotypes of outsiders.”[ref]The Gardian. Patrick Barkham. http://bit.ly/2rPauq0. accessed 5.17.18.[/ref] All one has to do is open your Twitter feed or Facebook page and you can witness “groupthink” in all its splendor, or non-splendor!
Folks who participate in groupthink usually don’t know they are participating in an illusion. They are convienced that their thinking is original to them, instead of realizing that what they are being fed over and over again to reflect on is being fed to them by teachers, preachers, news broadcasters, and others who want to control their minds and actions. Watch out! Get your defenses up! Don’t become infected with the humdrum your mind is being fed.
If the above paragraph doesn’t give you pause, it might be that you have been so saturated with groupthink that you are unaware of what you really think. Of course, as with any label, there are those who do not think that groupthink is all that bad. Here’s a novel idea, why not make a thinking decision on your own and bring it to your group, share it, and see what happens.
Is it possible that a person who defends groupthink as an individual, who believes that if their group doesn’t think about an idea in the same way, she or he may lose power?
There are different forms of thinking. It is often difficult for us as Western folks to grasp that over two-thirds of the world think differently than we do.
One further example: if you were to gather several students and put each of them on a different corner of a street, then set off a small explosion in the middle of the intersection, then ask each to describe the explosion, you would probably get four different views of the same incident.
- A military student might tell you how many pounds of explosives it took to produce what had just been observed. She or he may even tell you how many people could be harmed or killed if this explosion was used in warfare.
- A chemistry student might tell you how the chemicals fused together in order to give the reported response.
- An art student might tell you the many different colors that could be seen as he or she observed the explosion.
- A student learning to become a firefighter might describe the fire by the heat it produced or the way it reacted to the wind.
Different folks would see the same event from different perspectives. However, in a group infected with groupthink, someone would try and persuade all the members of the group, that only one point of view is valid, instead of offering another point of view as an alternative to the group’s point of view. Question everything!
Remember the Warnings: Jude 17-19
But, dear friends, These words should be translated as “But you….” The “you” is emphatic and plural. Again, reminding the reader(s) that the Bible wasn’t written to you personally but for a community of Jesus followers. There would be no doubt in the minds of the readers that Jude had changed direction and was now going to exhort them about how to possibly solve their present dilemma.
Think about it: a person cannot remember something that he or she has not been told or read. Jude told his readers that they should remember what those who functioned as apostles had said about the very situation they were living in. Read missionaries for the word apostles but not in the sense of the modern conception of a missionary, but simply as one sent on a mission. This statement implies that they knew the predictions of these missionaries who had been sent to them or it would have been a waste of time for Jude to ask them to remember. By calling on the readers to remember the missionaries’ words, he not only leans on the authority of the First Testament but on the words occasionally given to different men and women in their local ecclesia. It is incumbent on followers of Jesus today to be aware of what the First Century missionaries have said. We have the benefit of having this written and bound so we can hide it in our hearts as well as hold it in our hands. This is one of those places where Jude and 2 Peter sound a lot alike (2 Peter 3.3).
These followers of Jesus were to remember something specific—what these missionaries of our Lord Jesus Christ told them. Based on the priority of 2 Peter, that is, that Peter wrote his second letter before Jude wrote his letter, (remember, Peter was a representative of the missionaries from Jerusalem), which suggests that what Peter said would happen was now happening during the time Jude wrote. The text says that they should remember the words of the missionaries who had come among them teaching them about Jesus. The undertone of this passage helps us to conclude that there was a prophetic role for the missionaries as well. The whole area of prophecy is unfortunately often understood based on experience, especially in the modern-day Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. While balance is always being strived for, the most common understandings for folks about the subject of prophecy are:
- to have nothing to do with prophecy, or
- to go overboard and lead one’s life totally by prophecy.
Neither response is acceptable. Prophecy should be looked at seriously and biblically and discerned before any decisions are made because of it (1 Thess. 5.19-22).
Jude was specific about what they should remember—They said to you, “in the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” There is much debate today about living in the last times. It is true, we are presently living in the last times—but so did the disciples of Jesus. If Peter wrote that there would be scoffers in the last times and Jude is telling his readers to remember the word of the missionaries like Peter, it was because what Peter had written about was for Jude’s audience presently occurring—thus, they were living in the last times.
How many times have you been told that you are closer today than ever to the Second Coming of Jesus? Think about it! Now while you are reading these words, it is a fact that you are closer to the Second Coming than when you first began reading them. We can become so gullible without thinking. Accepting anything called a prophecy without thinking will simply cause you trouble in your life.
These Fake News! teachers are scoffers. The idea of the word used here is one who deceives and deludes others. In Peter, they questioned the Second Coming of Jesus by asking where was he? These errant folks knew what the followers of Jesus believed more than those in the community of faith knew what to believe, which was a sad state of affairs. In a mocking way, these Fake News! teachers prayed on those devoted to Jesus as not having a clue about what they believed. Then, by a deliberate act, they chose to dilute the believers to follow another gospel, one which would lead to their destruction.
These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. Here are three indictments that Jude made toward these Fake News! teachers. This is Jude’s explanation of their true character as they work out their dastardly deeds among Jesus followers. It could be said that nothing has changed, current Fake News! proclaimers share the same characteristics.
- They divide Jesus followers. These folks were dividing by proclaiming things to believe and creating their own distinctions. It is the classic “we” and “they” complex. We are the right ones, and they are the wrong ones. Their thought usually goes something like this:
“We have our own distinctiveness. We do and believe things this way. If you want to be a part, you must get on the bus. There is no room for differences of opinion or thought.”
Watch out for this kind of language. When you hear it, get off the bus!
This way of thinking was the FakeNew! folks habit of their life. They destroyed true unity by instigating severances and separation among the followers of Jesus. Unity is good, but so is diversity. Division, however, is not good and is caused by sin.
- They follow their unnatural lust. Behind the thought of Jude’s words is the consuming belief that these Fake News! teachers thought of themselves as truly spiritual people. And because they believed they were truly spiritual, they were above the moral code of the day. They saw themselves as the aristocracy of these newly formed churches. They were above the ordinary cut of people in the body of Christ. To this claim, Jude replies that the opposite was true. They were lust-dominated. He has documented this well throughout his letter.
- They do not have the Spirit. This is his final and incredible indictment. They are devoid of the Spirit. One cannot be a Jesus follower without the Spirit of Jesus. Scripture is plain: “If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8). Thus, Jude is saying that they are devoid of the very thing which makes them true Jesus followers. Whatever presence they have, whatever inspiration they may impart is not from the Spirit of Jesus. One may simply say in colloquial Christianese that they were unsaved, i.e., not a genuine follower of Jesus. ChurchWorld, as well as house churches who do not want to be classified as part of the Institutional church, are full of such folks today, even in leadership. The irony is that these Fake News! teachers are professing that they can produce life if these small bands of Jesus followers would only follow them. Jude is plain, they had nothing to give for they were dead in their own perpetual sins.