I have never found much value in rumours. They could be true, hold half-truths or have no truth to them at all. Rumours can begin by misunderstood communication that is well intentioned but on other occasions rumours can be used for sinister or conspiratorial purposes. With rumours you will never know which one you are dealing with - truth, half-truth or untruth? And you can’t always guess the origins.
In my experience the best way to deal with rumour is not to listen to the one who spreads it but to ask questions of those about whom the rumour is spoken. Sometimes rumours begin quite harmlessly as I expect has happened for me in recent times. Sometimes you wonder if you should respond because any response may further fuel the rumour. It’s a little like a sporting coach who says to the media, “I have heard nothing about my contract being cancelled”, which seem more often than not to be code for, “watch this space”, followed by their sacking within the week.
With that in mind I thought I would respond to a well-intentioned rumour. Recently I have received a number of letters from people I don’t know thanking me for the articles under “Faith Matters” in the Extra. Over seven years of writing for the Extra my articles have met with mixed reaction.
Sometimes I have received correction I am thankful for, sometimes it is ridicule from those who don’t read the articles carefully, sometimes it’s a response from people who just hate the Christian view point and sometimes I even get letters of appreciation. Every response has been helpful, encouraging me to think, to reassess rather than react, to consider how I can better love those who disagree with me and to pray for the people of our region.
Amidst the correspondence there does come some applause which I am both careful of and thankful for. One always need to be careful of applause as it can produce pride. The great danger of such pride is you can end up saying what brings applause rather than what needs to be said.
Having said that I seem to have entered upon a heightened period of correspondence of applause. So to all those who read my articles, thank you and I hope they prove helpful in thinking about your world and the place of God and faith in it.
But let me get back to rumours because it would seem that some people had got the impression that my article might be axed. Let me assure you that this was news to me and to the Extra. So as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “Rest! Rest, O perturbed spirit”. Nothing, of course, lasts for ever but the axe is not currently in hand. We have much to appreciate our local newspaper for as they continue to give a voice to a range of voices in our community, even the voice to God through the average clay of a person like me.
What is encouraging from this rumoured moment is that an often silent group of people will speak up when they think they will lose something important to them.
I don’t give much thought to the rumour mill. Wisdom suggests we should simply go to the source and check out the truth. That’s what you do if you want the truth about faith that matters and the truth about Jesus Christ. People have got all sorts of views on Jesus Christ, often constructed from rumoured and uninformed perspectives. I would encourage people interested in Jesus to go to the source. Where is that? The Holy Bible. It’s a big book of truth but for a beginner on their quest for truth I’d encourage a read of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament. There’s an index in the front of the Bible. It will give you the page number for where Mark will help you spend some time with Jesus Christ.
If you read Mark’s Gospel you will discover that just like my article there is no axe waiting for you but an invitation to come into and stay in the family of God. That’s no rumour, it’s the truth.