By Samuel Lawrence:
I get them all the time, and I am sure you do too: those emails and chain letters aimed at Christians. Many come with blessings, news and information, encouragement or a mix of all three. Often they contain promises of great blessings if sent to those in your address book, and some contain potential curses for those who dare delete them. Many of these tempt your faith with phrases like “If you love Jesus, pass it on. If you don’t then delete it.” The sad truth is many of these emails originate with less than Christian intent. Too often these are vehicles for spammers using email harvesting software. They can also contain malware and spyware. More often than not, they originate with the sole intent of making Christians look foolish. They are the chain letters of yesteryear made digital. I still get as email chain letters today, the very same variety as ones I received as” snail mail” 30 years ago.
Please do not misunderstand my intent. I sincerely believe those who send me these emails are being good friends and sharing what is often intended to be faith building or encouraging emails. I must admit I often forward these too, but I try to “sift the chaff” before hitting the send button. I also try to help fellow believers when they fall into a ruse of passing bad information. Recently two such emails come to mind. One email contained Barack Obama allegedly taking his shoes off to pray with Muslims. Now let me say that I look at the fruit of his term as President and must doubt the depth and sincerity of his seemingly feigned Christian Faith. I cannot fathom any Christian signing bill that supports the killing of innocent life through abortion. Plus Obama has made many token acts and comments which demonstrate more Islamic allegiance than Christian. So this presidential picture in the email seemed plausible. However, thanks to urban legend busting websites, the photo was deemed a fake before I blogged about it or sent it out to all my email friends.
Another recent email sent to me by a Christian friend was intended to be a faith builder to me and others as it contained many photos of archeological digs in biblical lands. The series of photos contained bones of what appeared to be remains of giants, reportedly found in Saudi Arabia, thereby proving the biblical accounts regarding giants.
Now, I know the person who sent it and I know that their intent was to give a positive faith boost. As someone who loves to dabble with photo editing software, I was skeptical from the start. I have been taken in too many times and so I was suspicious. With only minimal searching, I was able to find that the photos were originally part of a photo-editing contest and the entire associated email story was contrived to make the hoax appear real. I “sifted this chaff” and notified my friend who then notified those who were in the their email distribution that this was a hoax. Because it targeted Christians, with the obvious intent to make them appear foolish, I had to help break the chain of deceit. Biblical references to ‘sifting’ wheat was the process of separating or filtering the good from the bad, the wheat from the chaff. Sifting is used to purify a product. The process involved winnowing wheat on large forks with six prongs. The forks were waved in the wind until the chaff blew off. Undesirable chaff would at times cling tenaciously to the fork.
The other side of that coin is the propaganda spin related to anything Christian. There are many other hoaxes passed off as science, such as the myth of evolution. Secular Humanists try to turn any news article that does support Biblical accounts as either phony or paint them with a broad brush of skepticism. For a great resource that supports all things historically Christian, see http://answersingenesis.org.
The only time archeological finds are trumpeted in the main media outlets is when it seems to support the myth of evolution. That does not mean there have not been any that support biblical accounts. It just means the propaganda news outlet choose to bury them or obscure and ridicule them. One example is the recent NT Times story about a significant archeological find supporting the historical fact of King David’s reign. The negative spin by the author began soon after the opening statement which reads “An Israeli archeologist says she has uncovered in east Jerusalem what she believes may be the fabled palace of the biblical King David.” The author goes on to quote Hani Nur el-Din, a professor of archaeology at Al Quds University who said “There’s a kind of fiction about the 10th century. They try to link whatever they find to the biblical narration. They have a button and they want to make a suit out of it.” That last sentence quoted is laughable because the last sentence is exactly what evolutionists do with the fossil record. They take a single fossilized bone and imagine an entire prehistoric creature or human-ape missing link.
My comment to my friend who sent me the giant hoax is this: as followers of Christ, we must not fall into the same trap as those in Jesus day. In Matthew 12:38-42 (NASB) Jesus instructs us “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” Jesus told “Doubting” Thomas, in John 20:29 “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Apostle Paul, in Romans 1:16-17, made it clear that the righteous shall live by faith: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” Paul also taught the Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, about Christ and the wisdom and power of God: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
So, Christians, be of good cheer, Christ is risen! We celebrate that on Easter and every Lord’s day. We need not fear what man may think or say for our faith is not in signs, or archeology, or even in science. Our faith is in our Savior, Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins and who was raised on the third day and lives forevermore as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The writer of the Book of Hebrews said it succinctly in Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”