One of the topics that I mentioned a few weeks ago as one of my target subjects is the tendency in our culture for all of us to overdose on bad news. In a sense, this is a continuation of what I wrote last time about the tendency of technology to become a tyrant. Because we live in a world of media overdose, it is painfully easy to become captured and captivated by the constant flow of news through all kinds of outlets. And because of the human penchant for bad news as opposed to good news ongoing exposure to the media means that our minds are constantly being filled with negativity.
I am fairly convinced that the extreme overdose of bad news works against living a peace-filled and faith-filled life. Paul's words to the Philippians in Philippians 4:6-9 began and end with the word "peace." Even at cursory look at those words from Paul reveal how important it is for us to set our minds on things that are peace-giving. Consider his words, paraphrased by me in places as indicated by italics:
Don't go on being worried about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be constantly being made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, be carefully and intentionally thinking about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9 ESV with TW paraphrasing).
I think it's fairly obvious that there is a connection between freedom from anxiety and both prayer and intentionally focusing our minds on positive things. I know for me personally God instructed me quite a while ago to avoid excessive exposure to any source of negativity, especially the flood of bad news that is always around us. I found that when I chose to ignore Him in this both my peace and my ability to trust him were noticeably and painfully diminished. I have also noticed that when my friends, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, expose themselves to a lot of ongoing news the same thing happens for them.
So what if the Bible is true? What if Paul's words here to the Philippians are absolutely trustworthy and reliable? How will that change how we interact with the culture around us, especially the technological part of our culture? I believe, of course, that Paul's words are true and that we will do best in terms of peace and faith when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide what we expose ourselves to. I am not talking about hiding from everything bad, I am not talking about ignoring trends and things in culture and society that we need to track in some way. What I am talking about is overdose: the almost compulsive following of negativity that can happen to anyone who pays too much attention to the various news sources in our culture. And, of course, there are other sources of negativity which probably won't pass through Paul's grid for us as well, but that's another.subject for another day. For now I offer to you a challenge: why not take the next two weeks and allow Holy Spirit to guide and inform what and how much exposure you have to the news? I think that in doing so you will be making an important adjustment, and adjustment needed because our culture is different from any that has ever existed before. In times past it took a long time for any kind of news to reach people, whether bad or good. Now we are flooded constantly by overwhelming amounts of information, much of it "bad news." Doesn't it make sense, then, to allow God to lead us in a way that cooperates with our desire and His desire for us to live peace-filled and faith-filled lives? Try it, you may like it!
Pursuing Him who is Good News,
Tom, one of Abba's children