Murder, rape, child abuse, discrimination, the Mafia, civil strife in South Africa, an earthquake in Mexico City, a mudslide kills thousands, soldiers are blown up in Ulster, the space shuttle blows up killing all seven astronauts, the president has a cancerous growth removed (they also checked a pimple on his nose), this movie star had a baby, that one died of AIDS, Mc Mahon mocks Rozelle . . . . From events world shaking to the mundane, from the significant to the frivolous we are bombarded daily by the news from television, radio, newspapers and news magazines. All of them are crying for our attention motivated primarily by profits as it results from higher ratings or circulation.
As children of God in this world what are we to make of the news? Consider a few things with me.
In the first place we must realize that we are naturally gullible. We tend to think that seeing is believing. Hence, we are easily taken in by the pictures we see printed or the action played out before us on the screen. Especially when we are young, (though we by no means lose the characteristic when we are older) we tend to identify with certain individuals or philosophies. In fact it never ceases to amaze me how teenagers, when trying to come to grips with their own values, often have great distrust for the values of their parents but blindly follow the leading of a public figure who catches their fancy. They begin to dress, talk, and act like this total stranger whom they have trusted. God knows this weakness in us. That is why Solomon wrote “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. ” Proverbs 1:10.
In order to get a proper perspective on the news we need a standard of truth to be our guide. That standard is the Scriptures. In it we learn that natural man is walking in the way of darkness with a breast filled with hatred toward God. We learn also that world events are developing toward the full manifestation of Anti-christ and the final coming of our Lord. We learn as well that the devil uses the things of this world to tempt us into sin and weaken our faith. Bearing these facts in mind look at a few of the dangers of the news.
One danger that has really impressed me lately is the distortion and bias in the news. When I was in Northern Ireland teaching, a great deal of concern was expressed for our physical safety. The impression most of our people had of Northern Ireland was that everyone there was in grave danger of being blown up or shot by the IRA. This impression was given by the news because the only thing shown on television about Northern Ireland was the violence. In reality, though soldiers and police were shot, it was much more safe for me to live there with my family than in Grand Rapids. I am convinced the twisted perspective in the news is a result of sensationalism and a biased Catholic press out to ruin the tourist industry of Northern Ireland. The once booming industry is now dead. Without a question this deception is the norm rather than the exception in the news. Yet, we tend to believe what we see and hear.
Another danger is what I call the trivia mentality. I refer to the fact that we tend to waste our time and our mental energy on meaningless morsels of gossip and events dished out in glossy format by the media. Perhaps you, as I, have been tempted by the check-out aisle newspapers that dish out the latest slop about UFO’s, unusual births and Hollywood gossip. Closer to home, even the daily paper that comes to the door or the major news magazines contain pages upon pages of worthless tidbits that are of no benefit to us, tantalizing though they be. I guess I’m not surprised about the craze in trivia games. Though they may be food for intellectual stimulation we had better be careful of the worth of what we are learning.
The last danger I’d like to mention is the fact that we tend to get accustomed to things that normally would be objectionable, if they become commonplace to us. I think for example of my innate abhorrence of dirty diapers. However, with the five little ones we have, I have developed a tolerance which enables me to take care of the problem without actually enjoying it. The sins and violence we observe in the news are like the dirty diapers. We see so much of them that we begin to lose our sensitivity toward them. In fact, even worse, our curiosity even begins to develop an appetite, or craving for that sort of thing. Rather than abhorrence we become amused by the terrible things reported to us. Are you being hardened this way?
If these are some of the serious problems with the “news” what should we do about it?
- Receive the news with a large pinch of salt, realizing that it is deceptive. Look behind the news for the manifestations of the end of time revealed in the Scriptures.
- Fill your time with good wholesome things that develop your talents and understanding rather than occupy your mind with the weightless tidbits of trivia.
- If you’re having trouble with being caught up by the news trap limit your exposure. Using the on/off switch, cancelling a subscription, or selling the T.V. can do wonders toward acquiring quality time to use in the service of Christ.
- Put the news in its proper place. Do not let it take precedence over the things of real value, the things of the kingdom of heaven. After all, the excitement of the Bears defeating the Patriots in the Superbowl is nothing compared to the salvation of even one soul. May God give us the grace to fight the good fight of faith in these last times. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6: 11.