A News Junky’s Secret Longings

To say that I am obsessed with the news is an understatement.  I have at least two news apps always at the ready on my phone at all times.  Whenever I have a spare moment I default to picking up my phone and checking it for breaking news or other interesting happenings in the world.  Just this morning I read about a young woman who was assaulted by morality police in Iran.  Apparently, she had some hair showing from the back of her hijab (scandalous!).  I read about a Democratic senator who crossed party lines to vote in the stead of a missing Republican senator who was out of pocket giving a eulogy at his best friend’s funeral (even more scandalous…for bitter partisan Americans!).  Finally, and I just caught the headline on this one, I read about how the Waffle House shooter’s dad had given his lunatic son back the weapons that law enforcement had already confiscated.  He was likely going to be charged in connection to the murders (and should be if I may insert my opinion into the “objective” news story).

Some of the things that make the news are emotionally jarring – like the mom who came home to her house burning with her 3 sons inside.  Such stories cause my heart to break and plead for God’s mercy on the victims and their families.  Some of the things that make the news are infuriating: I’m tired of hearing about Donald Trump’s every move or what he had for breakfast this morning (and that has nothing to do with him and his politics)!  Some of the things that make the news are not worth making the news (i.e. What Joy Behar thinks of the late Barbara Bush).

But what do all these stories share in common?  And better yet, why am I so obsessed in reading them and knowing about them?

Many people don’t read or watch the news because they say, “It’s always bad,” or “It’s so depressing”.  In a strange way, that’s why I’m drawn to the stories.  I don’t think I’m an unusually dismal person who gets my kicks from taking in horrible and dark things.  To the contrary.  Certainly as Christians we would do well to admit that things in our world pretty much stink to high heaven.  Still, just because it stinks and is atrocious doesn’t mean we should look away or simply think happy thoughts.  After all, the story lines in the news line up perfectly with the overarching plot in the Bible: all things were made “very good” by God’s own admission.  Mankind rebelled and sought after self-glorification.  Now the totality of our person: thoughts, emotions, desires, etc. all of them are riddled with strange, self-destructing rebellious habits (sin).  More than this, all of creation is now under the curse we fell into because of sin.  The news is testimony to the truthfulness of the Bible’s story.

But the Bible doesn’t end there.  It goes on to introduce the Savior who would take on our sins and rebellion and be punished for them by dying on a cross.  But he rose again on the third day.  And he is coming back to gather all that belong to him one day!  At that point, he will judge the world’s inhabitants and undo all of the created order only to bring it back together in perfect harmony and glory! So… where does the news fit into this side of the Bible’s story?

Jesus says, in Matthew 24:6-8, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”

Here it is in this text!  My obsession with the news is akin to a waiting father’s anxiety for the birth of his child.  Every time I look at the news and see the scandals, the violence, and the unrest I’m looking for that final contraction that will finally split the world wide open before the descending Lord of Majesty!  I’m watching the birth pains closely because human history must crown and Jesus Christ must come again into the world not as a baby but as a vindictive warrior.  Each sorrow and tear begs the suffering saint’s question in Revelation 6:10, “How long, O Lord???”

We are witnessing the labor of this earth and all human history as it forces the birth of a new age.  I challenge you: do not put your head in the sand of either positive thinking or despair.  Watch the news from time to time.  Make yourself take it in every once in a while.  We are not watching it to feel good we are watching it because we so desperately want to tune in one day to the breaking news that there is a man coming down out of the sky with a host of angels behind him.  It is Jesus we’re looking for in the news.  It is Jesus we long to see appear out of the oppression of our world.  Even so, come quickly Lord!