23 Jun Jesus Read the Newspaper. So Should You.
By: Stephen W. Hutchins
Sitting here on Galilee Beach (aka Salty Brine State Beach) enjoying the summer’s first such excursion, I find the ocean so relaxing and refreshing, even therapeutic on so many levels. It’s good for my mind’s islands too (see Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out” for explanation). I’ve just finished reading today’s newspaper, which doesn’t affect me like any of those aforementioned delights, but I do it anyway. Some might say I do it religiously.
Print is my favorite, these days almost exclusive, method of news gathering and keeping informed. I can remember reading the daily newspaper everyday from the time I was in elementary school. I think then, and to a certain extent now, I was motivated by a keen desire to learn more about the world outside. As I matured, and especially after becoming a committed follower of Jesus, I came to see real spiritual value in staying informed on a wide array of current events. And besides, Jesus did. No, He didn’t subscribe to the Bethlehem Breeze, watch the Nazareth News Network, or read the Galilean Gazette, but He did, scripture seems to indicate, keep up with the news in whatever form it was circulated in His day—but more about Him later.
Why, though, is it imperative for a Christian to keep up with the news? I see at least two important reasons. The first is so you can more intelligently pray for the world around you. Jesus taught us to pray for the advancement of His kingdom here on earth. Ignorance of what’s going on will not help you in this exercise. You’ll be much more engaged in your prayer life as you lift up the nations, gospel opportunities, the persecuted church, and a host of other needs if you know about them. Think of the newspaper as a giant prayer list or broadcast news as a call to prayer.
Another reason to be conversant with current events is to apply your Christian worldview to them and be ready to share it, when discussion invariably leads to the news of the day, when you’re with your unbelieving friends and acquaintances in your circle of influence. It might be out in the yard speaking with a neighbor, in the cafeteria lunching with colleagues, or any other place your life takes you. When a conversation takes you to the news of the day, you’ll be ready with a distinctive Christian perspective.
Which brings us back to Jesus. This seems to be exactly what Luke describes Jesus doing in the opening verses of Chapter 13. As the chapter opens, you can just picture Jesus, His disciples and the others standing around the water cooler as they confront him with a recent news story from the Galilean region. Jesus seems to know exactly what they’re talking about but uses it as an opportunity to segue into a discussion of spiritual truth. He then follows up with a news story of His own about another recent tragedy in the news, again using it as an opportunity to confront His listeners with truth about their own spiritual need. What a great example for us to follow!
Not all of us have a great deal of confidence in sharing our faith out in the world. Talking about the news can be a much less threatening threshold to cross over, especially if someone else takes the initiative in bringing it up. All we have to do is listen and be ready to offer our Jesus-influenced perspective. We won’t do that well, if at all, if we’re not keeping informed about our world and asking God to help us apply His wisdom and perspective as we seek to process it all. Jesus used the news for kingdom purposes. We can as well.