Have you considered that your theology dictates the way that you consume and respond to the news? The news we consume is not passive, therefore we cannot be passive in our consumption of the information presented. If we sit back, allowing information to pour over us, without actively engaging it with the truth revealed in Scripture, our minds and hearts become subject to the whims of the voices we hear. As Christians living in a context of information being presented at all hours of the day and at a mind numbing pace, we cannot sit back and let the waves crash over us. We must develop a biblical framework by which to process the information. Over the next two weeks we will be discussing the way a Christian should consume and respond to the news. This week will focus on our consumption and the filters that we can utilize in order to maintain a stable biblical worldview in the midst chaos. This is not meant to be an exhaustive strategy for handling current events, but rather, a springboard that will encourage us to use the Scriptures to interpret the world we live in.
How should a Christian watch the news?
With Care: The current media industry has been developed in such a way that it relies on viewership. The more viewers, the more advertisers will flood these outlets and subsequently the pockets of the people who own them. This system creates a dependency on massive amounts of information and flashy headlines. This implies the information being presented will not always be a complete statement of reality but rather an editorialized interpretation of an event. The industry overall is not concerned with an informed public, but rather a captive audience. As Christians, we must not be naive, but recognize these realities and take great care when we tune into the news. If we are primarily shaped by the news and those in the media, then we will be unduly influenced by them. Paul calls the church to not be conformed to the present age but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). All throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to fill their minds with thoughts and knowledge of God (Josh. 1:7-8, Prov. 2:4-6, Titus 1:1, 2 Pet. 3:18). So ask yourself, “Am I more informed by a talking head with an agenda, or by the infallible word of God?”
With Limits: While we should not be ignorant of current events, we should limit the amount of news that we consume. With the advent of the 24 hour news cycle and social media we are flooded with “breaking news” at all moments of the day. While it is important to be informed, it is dangerous to be overstimulated. As we have stated earlier, the news industry in our culture is not passive and is therefore influential in the way we perceive people and events. Much like a river slowly shapes the landscape through which it passes, those who regularly watch the news will be shaped by the commentary given. The bible is quite clear: where we set our minds directly relates to the orientation of our hearts. Peter is rebuked by Jesus for where his mind is set, “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33). This does not mean we never watch or follow the news. Rather, we limit our consumption and do not allow the news, and someone’s interpretation of it, to dominate our minds.
With Sensitivity: While the news may be captivating, we must be sensitive to the people who are behind the headlines we read. Underneath a sensational story are real people who are being influenced by the events being described. These are lives of people who are affected by policy, tragedy, or events in real and significant way. Due to the sheer amount of news that is disseminated we can become desensitized to the impact of current events. It is so easy to watch the news as spectators only, that we grow cold to the implications flashing across our eyes. How do we fight to maintain a heart that is sensitive towards people and the real issues they are facing? We must start by remembering that there is something true about those who are affected by current events, policy, or tragedy; they are image bearers of God that are worthy of dignity that has been bestowed on them by our Creator (Gen. 1:27, 5:1-2). Most of the news today includes people that are in deep despair and heartache. This means that we should sensitively consider the implications of the news we hear and not assume that we understand all facets of a situation. We, as God’s people, should give comfort to the marginalized, pursue justice for the oppressed, speak out for the voiceless, and offer hope to the hopeless. If we are not sensitive to the needs of our neighbors, then we will not see a need to pursue them with gospel-centered action (Matt. 22:39).
As Christians who have access to the absolute truth of God in His word, we should watch the news with care, limiting the amount we consume, and being sensitive the people affected by current events. Because if there is one thing that we can agree on with the news, it’s that our world is indeed broken. But no political figure, social initiative, or public policy will remedy that reality; only Jesus can and will fix what is broken (Rev 21:5).