Why do you follow the news? Do you follow the news? What news do you follow? We have many options for selecting and filtering what news we are actually exposed to. Our choices, as well as trends in the news industry, may give us quite a distorted view of what is actually happening in the world. We are often encouraged or even constrained by the media to focus on just a few key stories at a time, giving the superficial impression that nothing else of importance is happening.
As Christians, how should we approach the news? We serve a God who is concerned about the whole world and who is at work today in every part of the world. His concern for the world, and his purposes for the world, should be reflected in our approach to the news.
Perhaps you feel that God has called you to share his concern for a particular part of the world or for a particular issue or situation. If so, it’s good to try to stay as well informed as possible about what is actually happening with regard to that issue or situation. Focusing on a God-given area of concern can reduce our tendency to restrict our interest to whatever the media is focusing on right now.
But what about all the bad news, which, if we are honest, is most of what we hear from the media? We may be tempted to get discouraged, feel depressed, or even just stop following the news altogether. Jesus’ words to his followers in Matthew 24:4-14 seem particularly relevant. Jesus speaks about the bad news that we are bound to hear about and even be personally affected by. But he also says ‘See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet’ (v.6, ESV). And then in verse 14 he adds a hugely significant statement: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (ESV)’ This reveals to us the one thing that God is more concerned about than anything else: that everyone in the world has an opportunity to hear the gospel.
Obviously, we are unlikely to hear about the spread of the gospel in the news. Therefore it is vital to supplement news reports with reliable information from Christian sources about what God is doing throughout the world today – particularly if God has given us a specific area or issue to be concerned about and to pray for. We must do all we can to get the whole picture, which includes the spiritual perspective.
In the Arab world today there is a lot of bad news – wars, terrorist attacks, humanitarian crises, political unrest. Much of it has slipped out of the limelight these days, as the media seeks out something newer, but the suffering of the Arab world continues. And yet we see God doing amazing things in the midst of turmoil and suffering. The light of the gospel is shining brighter than ever in the darkness!
What to do now
Keep Jesus’ words from Matthew 24 in mind today as you read or watch the news. Do they help to counter the feelings that come when bad news arrives? Maybe check out a few alternative sources. Think of a particular country or people group you’re concerned about and look out for some good news about it or them. Are you surprised by what you have found?
Make a comment below or use social media to let us know your thoughts about today. Use the hashtag #RethinkingRamadan.
Tomorrow, as we reassess, we’ll be testing our knowledge of the Arab world.