Current Events Filter

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Watching the evening news, a ritual in our empty nest, informs us of the world’s happenings. The last few weeks have seemed especially gruesome and disheartening: ebola, police shootings, a journalist beheaded, persecution of Christians in Iraq, suicide, immigration crisis on the border. Some nights we feel assaulted by the broadcast—fear, outrage, sadness, disappointment, occasional glimmers of hope drowned out by cruel humanity.

Its hard enough to digest the news, its even more difficult to listen to the talking heads debate the issues and give their not-so-humble opinions.

We all breathe with natural prejudices. Our eyes see through a lens clouded by our own backgrounds: our nation of origin, our heritage, the language we speak, our allegiances, and our varied experiences over a lifetime.

I recognize my own limitations to be unbiased. I was born in Canada and immigrated legally into the US. I lived through the Vietnam War era. I now reside in Texas—a border state. I speak English only. My son is a police officer. Suicide has touched my extended family. I’ve been to Russia eight times. I’m a Christ follower. Each of these filter my thoughts and affect my attitude toward the news. I can’t escape these any more than you can escape your background and experiences.

Even Christ followers are not a homogeneous group. We often see things differently, we disagree on issues, we evaluate the news through different filters. We do not speak with one voice.

I believe God intends for his children to come together around His Word, to find common ground, to surrender our prejudices to these unifying truths:

• We live in a broken world with irreparable people. All human beings need a Savior: the aggressors, the victims, and all who spectate from their couches.

• Through no righteousness of our own we were shown mercy by God and washed clean by the blood of Jesus. This same mercy is offered to all who receive him—no one is beyond God’s reach.

• Our God is just and there is no favoritism with him. Justice in this world will always be imperfect until Jesus returns. And we can trust him to deal justly in his time.

• To follow Jesus means to be his ambassadors, bringing the message of reconciliation and forgiveness to a hostile world.

Neither ignoring the news, nor being obsessed with it, will accomplish God’s purposes. When God’s Spirit and God’s Word live in us we’re equipped with everything we need to live a godly life. This is why I memorize Scripture. It reminds me first of my own depravity, and my own inability to see things objectively. It also reminds me of my sovereign God, who not only sees the evil and the good, but promises to work it all out for the good of those who love him.

It also calls me out of my comfort zone with these words:
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” Jude 20-23

What has helped you to analyze the daily news?

12 comments to Current Events Filter

  • Natalie

    What a timely post! Thank you for this. I am so encouraged, not only by how to process news for myself, but you’ve laid out for us a template on how to engage people with the gospel. In these wicked days, nearly everyone can look around and agree on the sinfulness of man and the despair of that state. That is a springboard for the Good News that is so desperately needed. Armed with the scripture we’ve memorized, and the Holy Spirit within us, with hardly any effort at all, Gospel conversations can be started with a simple discussion of the news. Let’s pray for ourselves and for each other today to start these conversations!

  • sheila payne

    I struggle with all the current issues going on in our world. I haven’t figured out the balance between knowing and not knowing what is going on in the world. It is so upsetting when you see bad decision after bad decision being made and things growing worse. America is such a blessing but she is hurting and that scares me. What is the balance?

    • Our balance has to be saturating our minds and hearts with God’s Word. Too much news makes us jaded. Too little of God’s Word limits our perspective to our own natural prejudices which are warped. We end up with a we/they mentality.

    • I’d like to also give an endorsement for WORLD magazine. This Christian publication covers all the news from a Christian perspective. It helps me balance what I read and hear. It is a great resource for challenging our thinking and sharpening our perspective. It comes in print or online. I highly recommend it.

      • sheila payne

        I use to get that magazine when we were HOMESCHOOLING. I will look into getting it again. You always have such good suggestions. Please consider more post that help us live with joy and hope in a darkening world.

  • Your blog was so timely for me this early morning. Many sleepless nights lately, pondering the world news, crying out to God to help us, praying for the lost, seeking wisdom from His Word, verses churned over in my mind until etched on my heart. How can we get through these days without His presence ever before us? I need His Word for spiritual power in dark days, for strength to trust only in Him when the world is so out of control; I need His Word on my lips to be His mouthpiece to hurting souls in my path by His divine providence.
    Oh, how His Word provides all we need to walk through this day and the next, verse by verse!

  • Ethan

    When I go on my early morning walk I begin by praying “Lord, I yield my life to you today”. Then I review various verses and passages as I walk. Doing this gives me biblical insight and perspective for the day. I will either filter everything I hear, see, and read through God’s word or the world. The more I know God’s word the better my perspective on everything going on in the world.

  • Tony

    I have become so disgusted with the sensationalism that has become our modern-day media, that it has gotten to the point the only thing I care to watch is the weather. I am so comforted at this posting giving me an even better perspective to the not only need, but drive and desire for memorization. Keeping our focus on Christ is by far better than even (albeit few and far between) the best of “happy news” reports.

  • Vickie

    Janet, thank you for this post. I agree there has to be a balance between staying informed of and being controlled by the “bad news” out there. I know believers need to make a stand on issues that are contrary to the teaching of scripture, but we cannot live in fear of atrocities that Jesus told us would come. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you,and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 I have to remind myself that nothing that happens catches Jesus by surprise. Our King knows and is in control. If I had not been working on memorizing the Sermon on the Mount, I doubt I would be able to filter what has been in the news lately. Putting His Word in our hearts is crucial in these times.

  • Holly Steadman

    Yesterday I had a friend text me a very worried question. She wanted to know if I believed ISIS may come here to America. Her husband is studying to be a pastor. After some back and forth texting, she also stopped by and said he pretty much agreed with everything I said.
    Beautiful result…
    She left with her heart set to memorizing the Word. She said she doesn’t have any capacity on her own, but she loves her Lord and if persecution is coming–she agrees this is the best preparation. I told her I knew for certain that the Holy Spirit will help her.
    Tomorrow I am dropping off a copy of your book. 🙂
    She is going to begin with the book of James.
    God is so good!