Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17, Daniel 11:36-37, Matthew 24:30-31
I’m not sure who began the rumor, but somebody did. Somebody in the church at Thessalonica whispered to somebody else that the Day of the Lord had come, and panic began to spread.
Perhaps this person saw evil happening around him and drew his own conclusions. Perhaps someone misinterpreted Paul’s first letter that described Jesus’ Second Coming to be a warning that the Second Coming was upon her. We don’t know, but from the way Paul addressed the issue, we do know that this rumor caused anxiety.
Paul pleaded with the church, “We ask you, brothers, not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging the Day of the Lord has come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Paul’s strategy to dispel this rumor was to fight it with the truth. Referencing a visit recorded in Acts 17:1-13, he asks: “Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about this?” (2 Thessalonians 2:5). He then details the events they had gone over together in Scripture, the events that would precede the End Times, how Christ would prevail over the evil one, and how all of this would happen under the sovereignty of God’s timing.
In their state of confusion, Paul used the truth to reassure the church. The truth can do the same for us. What rumors do we fall prey to? What causes us to feel fear or to panic?
It is not only rumors about the End Times that can upset us. It can be rumors about other aspects of our faith. Rumors about people we know. Rumors about people we don’t know. Rumors are so dangerous because beyond misleading people with falsities, they cause unnecessary fear and anxiety. They cause us to trust the story rather than our God. Or, they cause us to judge others based on what we’ve heard about them, rather than what God says about them.
Though rumors may be impossible to avoid, especially in our social-media-driven culture, they are not impossible to dispute. As Christ followers, we are also truth followers, and as truth followers we should also be truth seekers. The ones who—before buying into the rumor—ask ourselves, as Paul did with the Thessalonians:
What is the truth here?
What does Scripture really say about this?
Where is the Holy Spirit guiding me on this topic, or this story?
In this way, we will not be deceived.
Rumors cause shadows of confusion, but the truth exposes lies to the light. Rumors cause fear and panic, but the truth brings freedom and peace. Rather than adding to the rumor mill, may we be the ones who put a stop to it with truth—a truth that says God loves us and has given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace. Now that is a story we can trust in.