As Christians, we have a new nature that mirrors our heavenly Father. Because of this new nature our response to the news will be differ from the response of an unbeliever as we mimic God’s character. Last week we briefly discussed some filters that we should employ as we watch the news, but if we are not responding to the news in a godly manner then we have missed the point. 1 Corinthians 13 illustrates this, albeit indirectly, by stating that if we have all knowledge or faith but do not love, then we are nothing. By extension, we can say that even if we watch the news with the right amount of limitations, care, and sensitivity, but we do not respond correctly, then we are wasting our time.
How should a Christian respond to the news?
With Prayer: God calls us as Christians to not be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6), but rather to take our concerns to Him in prayer. There is a temptation to respond sinfully when we consider the state of the world as it is presented in the news. Tomorrow could bring the next shooting, the beginning of a new war, or the institution of a policy that removes our freedoms. All of these narratives, and more like them, flood our minds and expose our propensity to worry, anger, pride, fear, and many more. How do you respond when presented with these headlines? I encourage you to pray, for by our prayers we show that we trust God more than any human institution to resolve the problems of our world. Here are a few practical things you can pray for when confronted with unwelcome or disturbing news.
Pray God would remind you that He is in control of all things (Col. 1:17).
Pray for those affected by a particular event. (Rom. 12:15)
Pray for the leaders involved in a particular circumstance. (1 Tim. 2:2)
Pray the Lord would use this situation to bring glory to his name. (Rom. 11:36)
Pray the Lord would give you ways to share the hope of Jesus Christ in light of this news. (Rom 2:4)
Pray the Church would respond appropriately and that God would use these circumstances to refine His people. (Rom 8:28)
With Grace: We are witnessing the polarization of our society at an alarming rate. There is animosity between political parties, and even more concerning is the tension based on race and ethnicity. We as the church are not isolated from these factors and must recognize that these realities can seep into our midst. Every news outlet has its own political and social biases, consequently operating as a wedge that divides. To our shame, we in the church even have, sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly, gauged someone’s spiritual state by their association with a particular public figure, social initiative, public policy, or political affiliation. These factors have never been, and will never be, criteria for admittance into the kingdom of God (praise God this is so!). To be sure, there are certain topics that grab the headlines with which the Christian cannot violate their conscience and support. These are topics that are addressed quite clearly by Scripture; abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, racism, and others. We must therefore be simultaneously firm with our convictions and deal with gentleness and grace. Too many times our rhetoric and demeanor in conversations concerning current events resembles more the talking heads on TV trying to prove our point rather than displaying concern for the eternal good of those around us. As we identified last week, we are dealing with people who are in the midst of great pain and turmoil. These factors create an environment in which the grace of God will be compelling and distinct from the world. We should not waste the providence of the Lord on petty arguments, but rather apply the soothing balm of the gospel to the wounds of humanity.
With Love: If we are being obedient to the command to love our neighbors then that implies we will also seek their good in light of current events. Jesus is our prime example of this type of love. Jesus responds to those around Him with love in two ways; teaching and action. Without question Jesus makes clear that His primary reason for His earthly ministry is to preach (Mark 1:38). At the same time, Jesus is not ignorant of the suffering of people around him. In the very next verse, Mark points out that as Jesus is traveling and preaching, he is casting out demons (Mark 1:39). In the two miraculous feeding accounts Jesus is said to have “compassion” on the crowd and meets their physical needs. If we truly recognize that those behind the headlines we read are real people, image bearers of God, then we will driven by love to seek their eternal good. This means that we are primarily concerned with the state of the souls we see, remembering the chief problem of humanity is lack of peace with God. At the same time, we cannot be unaware of the suffering they are experiencing. As we seek to honor everyone (1 Pet. 2.17), live at peace with everyone (Heb. 12:14), and treat others as ourselves (Matt. 7:12) then the people around us, regardless of their sexual orientation, ethnicity, political affiliation, or religious beliefs, should benefit from our presence. Often we are content to sit back and let humanitarian organizations, advocacy groups, and charitable entities exhibit care for those in difficulty. The church, as benefactors of God’s love, should be quick to reflect that love to others, even to those those with whom we differ politically, socially, economically, or culturally. As the body of Christ, using our gifts in love for the sake of others in their distress is a clear proclamation that Christ has regarded our own helpless estate.