Monday Memo — Looking for Truth in Current Events

Our culture has become more coarse, more divided. What can we learn from the manner in which Jesus responded to the sensational current events of His time? My dear friend, Dr. Gene Rudd, answers this question in a blog post he wrote for the Christian Medical Association.

Gene Rudd, MD

Luke 13 records an interesting exchange between Jesus and the crowd. Apparently some in the crowd had read the Jerusalem Times that morning and were eager to see how Jesus would respond to the news.

The story involved the death of members of a Galilean sect at the hand of Pilate. Presumably the sect had been rebellious to Roman rule. While they were offering sacrifices, Pilate had them killed. Even in that day, “if it bleeds, it leads” guided the reporting of current events.

Jesus introduced the other news story. There had been a recent accident in which the tower of Siloam collapsed killing 18 people. It is clear this “news” was fresh on the mind of the people. There seemed to be a genuine desire to make sense of it. Jesus’ perspective on both stories should inform us about how to respond to the current events of our time.

To borrow from Dickens, perhaps this is not the worst of times, but neither is it the best of times. Our culture has become more coarse, more divided.

In my lifetime I do not recall greater political angst. Reporters and new anchors now take liberty to “color” the news, not simply report the facts. Every media outlet seems guilty of bias.

Matters are made worse by the phenomenon of “fake news.”

So what can we learn from the manner in which Jesus responded to the sensational current events of His time?

He gave the same response to each of these news stories, “…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, ESV).

Was his response insensitive or uncaring?

I do not think so. (Being insensitive or uncaring would not have been consistent with His character.)

Jesus was making the point that we must look past life’s circumstances, focusing on matters of eternal importance. He did not tell them to ignore the news, but neither should they allow it to distract them from seeking “…first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33, ESV).

To modify another teaching of Jesus, what would it profit a man to be caught up in the news of this world and lose his own soul?

Let’s not allow the “news” to distract us from the calling and commandments of God.

To accomplish this in my life, I refuse to watch television news and pseudo-news commentary shows.

I do read the news to be adequately informed, but I am selective. This strategy helps me fulfill the admonition of Philippians 4:8,

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).