Remember Nellie the dog? She rescued 927 people from the collapsing WTC on 9/11/01. This heroic canine, the guide dog for a blind man, led hundreds thru the smoke-filled building to safety and survived severe injuries herself. A mass email that I received stated that Nellie was the first dog to be honored with the New York City Medal of Honor. There was even a picture of this noble Golden Retriever. The animal lover who forwarded this to me, and a dozen others, stated, “I’m a sucker for this kind of story.” That was a true statement– according to Snopes the tale was pure fiction.
I think “miraculous” stories that never really happened are a way satan undermines the faith and hope of naive believers. When eyes are opened, and they find out the miracle never was, it can can be shattering for some. At the very least these stories, ubiquitous on the internet, are a backhanded slap at the real miracles God works daily. It is like saying that His reality isn’t good enough and so we will concoct our own.
The urban legend of Nellie is a tale I include in the chapter on pathological liars in my book Jesus v. satan: The Message of the Wilderness Temptations. Stealing another’s reality thru lies, misinformation and propaganda is a subset of the temptation of power. Satan took Jesus to a high place where all the kingdoms of the world were visible and said that he would give Him “authority” over this fallen creation if He would only worship him. Jesus answered, “It is written: worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
One way we worship and serve God is by telling others the truth as best we can. The Holy Spirit, among other things, is the Spirit of Truth. We are told to worship in Spirit and in Truth. I’ve learned the hard way that there are a lot of miraculous, feel-good stories circulating in cyberspace that have little or no basis in reality. The prince of the power of the air is alive and well on the internet. I’ve learned the hard way to check these out via snopes.com before I pass them on. Do likewise, honor the Spirit of Truth as best you can. It is our obligation to each other.