“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
That is from Matthew 7, and just writing that leads right into what I want to talk about. Matthew 7 sounds like a username. It could be someone on Facebook or an unsolicited email that finds its way to your inbox.
It is easier than ever these days for people to express their opinions and in doing so, to influence others. It is sadly tempting to think this is always a bad thing. We hear about youngsters being “groomed” online, lulled into a false sense of security by someone with bad intentions.
The same thing happens with religion; we hear about people being radicalised, lured into the murky, deadly world of extremism and violence.
As that verse from the Bible shows, the bad guys were at it thousands of years ago, in an era when communications hadn’t yet reached the sophistication of carrier pigeons. If they were worried about it then, and Jesus felt strongly enough about it to give that warning, how concerned must he feel now, observing a world which mankind has all but ruined?
But if Jesus were to return at this point in time, how would he go about letting us know and turning us into a peaceful army, a global force for good?
Would he hire a public relations firm? I don’t think so. PR is all about accentuating the positive and taking the focus off the negative. If there is no negative, what is there for a spin doctor to do?
Jesus would be on Facebook and he would have more FB friends than anyone in its history (if 12 years can be called history). He would be on Twitter, producing the most (perhaps the only) worthwhile series of tweets there has ever been. He would have a TV channel and his radio show would be syndicated to every country in the world. And he would tour relentlessly, indefatigably. He would fill conference centers and sports stadiums, and all his personal appearances would be free of charge.
Does that mean the Bible would become obsolete? No. The New Testament would stand the test of time because it is a historical record of Jesus’s life.
It’s the Old Testament that would struggle, as it has struggled increasingly in recent years. It is full of stories; some beautiful, some inspiring, some terrifying. And some… just seem so much of their time rather than our time. It’s a book full of significance and there is a huge amount we can learn from it. But it’s also full of violence and ideas of morality that seem wrong to us. It reflects a time when the glorious age was in the future at an unknown time. Much like now, really.