There is a saying in journalism, especially in trash journalism, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
Traditionally, good journalism was about seeking the truth, reporting the facts, and giving a considered, evidence-based opinion. It was never about “spin,” to present a misleading view, swaying people into accepting something false.
Unfortunately, that cannot be said of some journalism today, where the focus seems to lean towards the dramatic rather than what is factual. This is emphasised in another journalistic saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” It shows the focus on drama to draw in viewers or readers for the purpose of ratings, and as a result, to increase advertising revenues.
The truth is often trampled by the need to improve ratings, or to sell newspapers and magazines. Sections of the journalistic media have succumbed to the pursuit of financial gain to appease and grow shareholder wealth, rather than “telling it like it is.”
Knowing that some sections of the news media are biased for one reason or another, the question I ask is, “Whom can you believe?”
We rely so much these days on the opinions of experts that most of us have shirked our responsibility to seek the truth for ourselves. This is true not just in current events, but also in all areas of our lives.
We do need experts, especially when the results of a meddling amateur can be dangerous, damaging or life-threatening.
To give an example, a hairdresser looks at heads all day. But I would not go to a hairdresser for head surgery! Nor would I go to a brain surgeon for a haircut! You need the right expert for the right job. We expect the expert to give us the facts and to show us a path forward.
But ultimately it is our responsibility to make decisions based on their best opinion, and the opinions of many counsellors. That’s why doctors tell us to get a second opinion, and why the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 11 verse 14,
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.”
Seeking The Truth
People must seek out the truth for themselves, and as an aside, you cannot blindly accept the opinion of the majority. Too often the majority opinion has proven wrong.
The way to find the truth in any situation is to go back to the source, back to the “horses mouth.” Sometimes you can’t, especially with some news events. But you can look at all the differing comments and views to gain understanding, and not accept the first opinion you hear. However, where you can access the source, you need to do it to get the full picture.
While this is important for the things of this world, it is essential with matters of faith. Having the peace of God in your life and your eternal salvation are riding on it.
God has appointed people in His church as pastors, apostles, teachers, prophets and so on, for the purpose of giving you direction. They are His ministers, appointed by Him to do this work. But they cannot save you and they will not be standing as intermediaries or advocates when we all stand before the Judgement Seat of God. Only Jesus Christ holds that position as both Saviour and intermediary between man and God.
We are charged with an individual responsibility to seek and find the truth for ourselves. Thankfully, Jesus promised that when we do seek the truth, we will find it. Recall His words from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7, verses 7 and 8.
7 "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Whom Can You Believe?
To be anchored in the truth, it is necessary to have a standard against which truth and error can be measured. Without a standard we are like flotsam and jetsam in the bilge of a boat, that washes back and forth wherever the wave motions carry it.
We have been given a standard by which we can learn the will and the ways of God. That standard is the Bible. It is the standard of truth.
God has also given us the Holy Spirit as guide, Counsellor, comforter and much more to lead us into all the truth.
It is to Jesus Christ that we must turn to find the truth, because His words are the only things we can believe. Seek Him, for He cares and He wants all people to find the knowledge of the truth and the fullness that God offers.
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” John and his wife Colleen travel all over Australia and you will often find him playing guitar or ukulele outside their caravan somewhere in the Great Outback. You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his Christian Bible study blog (freegiftfromgod.com/blog).
John Lemmon’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-lemmon.html