VEN GAVIN COLLINS: Who can you trust in a world of alternative facts?

The Ven Gavin Collins, archdeadon of the Meon
The Ven Gavin Collins, archdeadon of the Meon
The ship enters Portsmouth Harbour

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THERE has been a lot of attention recently given to the subject of fake news and alternative facts, with an increasingly widespread assumption that truth doesn’t matter any more.

The perception is that we are all free to decide for ourselves whatever is the truth in a given situation, or concerning a particular event, depending on our perspective, our preferences, or our opinions and view of the world.

Some of this can be fairly benign. I love the BBC panel show Would I Lie To You? – it’s often one of the funniest programmes on TV as contestants struggle to identify the unlikely truths hidden among unbelievable tales.

But the unthinking acceptance of alternative facts can be really dangerous and harmful; when politicians hide behind made-up statistics instead of being accountable for facts, or when businesses ignore the real impact of their activities and soothe us with false advertising images of the perfect family or lifestyle.

In matters of faith, alternative facts can be common and often appealing, but ultimately just as dangerous and harmful – the preacher who promises that if only you trust in God, you need never have any financial or job worries ever again; or the pastor who says that if only you pray hard enough and have enough faith, then every illness will be cured, and all pain will be removed.

The world simply isn’t like that. Instead, we have in Jesus the One who assured us that he is ‘the way, the truth and the life’, and who proved that by stepping into our world with all its hurt and pain and struggle.

Instead of trying to deny the reality of loss and death with false comfort, Jesus allowed himself to go through death for us – proving the confident truth of God’s great love for us and the newness of life that he offers to us.

So when you face tough times and are tempted to find false comfort in easy explanations that gloss over the hard realities of the world, my encouragement is for you to look to Jesus.

Look to the one who faced the reality of sin and evil, pain and suffering, death and loss, squarely head-on.

And with Jesus we find the ultimate truth: that death need never be the last word, but that, with Him, we are brought through death into eternal life and security with God.