Is There Any Hope in Today’s News? January 06 2019
(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")
It’s a good thing our peace and joy is not dependent on politics. For many people, this is the preoccupation of their lives. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, or where you live in the world, it seems that 2018 has brought about high levels of political stress, uncertainty, and temptations to worry. The stock market is up, the stock market is down. The deficit is up. The government is shut down (partially). Drug overdoses are way up. There are fires, floods, tsunamis, wars, and humanitarian crises. Political attacks abound. On top of this, individuals and families have their own personal challenges, whether they be related to health, finances, or relationships. What is going on here? And is there any hope?
Thankfully, the Word of God was provided exactly for times like this. Take, for example, Romans 15:4:
Sadly, the Scriptures are often overlooked as the ultimate source of hope amid the daily drumbeat of the news cycle. Some of the “earlier times” referred to in Romans 15:4 include those written about in Hebrews 11, men and women who were no strangers to hardship and suffering, characterized in verses 36 and 37 as “men of whom the world was not worthy.” The passage describes some of what they went through: “they were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated ….”
Then what immediately follows in Hebrews 12:1-2 is this statement about these men and women of faith:
If we are tempted to bemoan the times in which we live, just think of those referred to in Hebrews 11 and 12. The Egyptian government was not exactly benevolent toward the Hebrews, and Christians certainly were not the Roman government’s favorite people. Even the religious leaders in Jesus’ day were only trying to protect their positions of power, and plotted to kill the One who came to save them. In many respects, things were much more precarious and volatile back then than they are now. Justice (and injustice) was swift, as we know from John the Baptist, the trial of Jesus, and the existence of crucifixion itself as a preferred method of execution.
In other words, these examples of faith should be a source of hope for us. The Scriptures speak of the “joy set before Him,” referring to Jesus. He didn’t let earthly tribulations divert Him from His mission. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 are described in a similar way:
What all these characters had in common was a clear understanding of and commitment to their mission on earth and faith that God would fulfill His promises. This also enabled them to see how transient their life on earth was in the context of eternity. Some people might accuse us by saying that “well, faith is just an escape from life.” On the contrary, our faith gives us an even greater appreciation for life and how to live victoriously through all of the challenges and difficulties life presents. It enables us to have hope even in what seems like earthly defeat, have peace when others are despairing, and love when others would seek revenge. My fellow believers, this is not “fake news.” Our faith is founded on the historical truths of “earlier times,” culminating in the birth, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Himself, which is our motivation for showing God’s love in this world.
The Scriptures tell us that we are to be “in the world” but not “of the world.” In John 17:15-16 Jesus even prayed to the Father for His disciples: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
So here we are at the beginning of 2019 – living in a world that is chaotic at times, both politically and in our personal lives. While some may try to escape from it all, through things like drugs or alcohol, God has provided us with an eternal perspective and resources that enable us to live “in the world” above what at times seems to be daily chaos. The Lord didn’t say this would be easy, and we fail at times, but it is a powerful witness to those around us, whether they would admit it or not.
So as we begin a new year, perhaps the reminder for us is this: don’t let the news lead us to any of the following:
- Worry (Matthew 6:33-34 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness … So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In other words, keep our focus on our daily mission of living a righteous life, and faith in God’s provision)
- Fear of the future (I John 4:18, 19 – “There is no fear in love … We love because He first loved us.” In other words, the cure for fear is to keep on loving others, in response to God’s love for us)
- Indifference toward the needs of others (believers or unbelievers) - (I Peter 2:12 – “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”)
- Neglect of time in the Word of God (Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”)
- Not growing to be more like Christ (Romans 8:29)
- Neglect of fellowship (Hebrews 10:24-25 – “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
The Word of God has been powerful and practical for those in “earlier times” as well as for those of us today. It expresses the hope and peace we can have even while a chaotic, unpredictable world swirls around us. May the year 2019 be a year in which our families, friends, work associates, neighbors, fellow students, and even random strangers scratch their heads and ask, “how do you stay so calm?” Oh, and if necessary, maybe we need to step away from the 24/7 news cycle, whether fake or factual, and absorb more of the refreshing “good news” that leads to life.
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