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Should Christians Follow the News?

What Would You Say?

You’re in a conversation with a fellow Christian who says, “The news is so depressing. I don’t know who to trust anyway, so I’ve stopped following current events.” What would you say? There’s no doubt that following the news can be overwhelming and discouraging… especially these days. Between talking heads on television, moral lectures from celebrities, and rants on social media, it can seem impossible to dig through the noise and know the truth about anything. However, Christians should be informed and aware of what is happening in our culture, not only for our own sake (so we can make good decisions), but for others (especially our children, our friends, and our communities). So how can Christians engage the chaos in the news without getting overwhelmed, discouraged, or burnt-out? Here are three principles to keep in mind. Number 1: All truth is God’s truth. The first and most important principle for Christians when engaging with any content is this: anything true, wherever we encounter it, is God’s truth. God is the Father of Truth. He has gone to incredible lengths to reveal Truth through His world, His Word, and especially His Son, Jesus Christ. Scripture tells that God is loving and that He is in control. That means that His Truth will not change over time. Truth transcends the contexts of different cultures. So, while we can always learn more in each new historical moment, from truths that are new to us to new applications and facets of Truth, the Truth itself does not change. Satan, on the other hand, is the father of lies. Throughout the Bible, from the very first time in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Eve, he sets up false narratives to undermine God’s truth and question God’s character as a loving father. That’s still what Satan does today. He hasn’t changed his tactics. So whenever we engage with the news we can keep this in mind. Anything true comes ultimately from God. Anything false, does not. And, even more than false facts, we should look for false narratives that undermine what is true and cause us to question what he has revealed. This leads to our second principle. Number 2: Focus on God’s story first, and the news second. If we don’t know God’s story, we won’t be able to differentiate between true and false narratives. The most important thing for Christians to do is to learn God’s story. If we don’t know what He has revealed, we will struggle to sort through the news with any clarity. In fact, reading and studying the Scriptures—or, learning God’s story—with a community of faithful believers is essential. When we know how to live and think from God’s story, rather than from the world’s narratives, we won’t be confused or despair by what we see in the news because we have a framework for identifying what is true and knowing where the ideas and issues of our culture fit. Number 3: Read local news stories and find ways to transform them. Christians should be most fully engaged with the news from their local area—from their own neighborhood, town, city, and state. Only after this should we focus in on national news. This may seem counterintuitive, but it has several advantages. First, it is easier to sort through competing narratives when the situation is closer to your life. And second, you’re more likely to be able to do something about problems in your local area. For example, reading a national news story about rising poverty levels is depressing and overwhelming. It’s not always clear what the Christ-like, loving response to that story is. But if you read a local news story about how a homeless shelter down the street needs donations, the action step is clear. You can volunteer or donate. You can even organize a food drive through your church, or you can work with a local youth group to do a service day. You can translate the story into action—you can fit the news into a narrative of God’s love restoring all things. So the next time someone says that they’re discouraged or overwhelmed by the news, share these three principles: Number 1: All truth is God’s truth. Number 2: Focus on God’s story first, and the news second. Number 3: Read local news stories and find ways to transform them. For What Would You Say?, I’m Brooke McIntire.

For more on engaging the news, see Chapter 4, "The Information Age," in A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle.