Does it matter if the story is true or not if it teaches a good lesson?
Ever heard that saying before?? I have, usually it’s in a joking manner, the problem is, it seems as if that’s the norm in our world today.
Not long ago a friend posted a story that received a LOT of feedback. Here’s a condensed version:
Jeremiah Steepek is about to take over as Sr. Pastor of a congregation of 7-10,000 people. The day that he’s to be announced to the church he comes into his new church and walks around talking with people. Only 3 congregants said, “Hi” to him.
He asked folks if they would give him some change so he could buy some food, no one gave him anything. Kinda’ like “Undercover Boss”, just from a spiritual perspective.
As the service gets ready to start he walks into the sanctuary only to have the Ushers move him from the front of the church to the back. The whole congregation just stares at him, judging him for his appearance.
Then the big moment arrives, the Elders of the church announce to the congregation they’d like to introduce the new pastor and everyone is excited. They start clapping with joy until they see the homeless man that everybody rejected walking down the aisle to announce that he’s the new pastor.
He quotes Scripture and shames everyone for their judgmental attitudes. Then, the coup de gras, he tells them,
“Today I see a gathering of people……not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples…when will YOU decide to become disciples?” He then dismissed service until next week.
Ouch! They even have a picture of Pastor Jeremiah.
Pastor Jeremiah Steepek
Please forgive my skepticism, but this just didn’t pass the “sniff” test to me. Whenever I hear these kind of stories I search to see if I can verify them.
What I found was that this wasn’t true! So, I added this disclaimer after the story:
“Use Caution, just saw this report! The story remains unsubstantiated and is likely to be just a religious parable created to illustrate an idea. The image does not show a Pastor Steepek, but rather an actual homeless man in Richmond, Surrey. Moreover, the only references to the alleged Pastor Steepek are those in the circulating message itself. The idea for the story may have been derived from the experience of Tennessee Pastor Willie Lyle, who lived as a homeless person for a week and later used the experience in a sermon to his new congregation.”
Even though I left the story up, I wanted to make sure that folks knew that at a minimum, there was some doubt to the factualness of the story. I don’t think it’s true at all personally.
Well, one of the responses that I received back literally blew my mind. I’ve removed the name and replaced it with initials. Here goes:
BH – Reasons for Hope I don’t know why you would comment as such but it doesn’t really matter it is the meaning of the story that matters. How many so called Christians act this way toward the less fortunate? How many take the time to see their pain and try and help. Wow really? Whats your point??????
At the risk of sounding like a jerk, here’s how I responded:
Honesty!!! Seriously BH, how could we NOT comment if the story isn’t true. It doesn’t matter if the point is accurate, great, touching or not. If it is portrayed as an actual event and it isn’t, we have to say that it isn’t true. We fully agree with the point that the story is getting at, just not deception. How could that be wrong??
This brings to light the old saying above. Is it o.k. to not be totally factual to tell a good story? To the world, maybe! But, as a Christian nothing could be further from the truth.
In Matthew 5:37 God tells to let our yes be yes and our no, no! Luke 16:10 tells us that if we are faithful in the little things then we can be trusted with bigger things. And Proverbs 12:22 makes it very clear:
Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
How about Proverbs 6:16-19, 19:9, Colossians 3:9-10, Psalm 101:7, Ephesians 4:25 and definitely don’t go to the 10 Commandments! What’s happened to us? May we never get comfortable with “white lies”, Lord, start with me!