There is a lot of news out there this week! Coronavirus, impeachment votes, State of the Union, Asian stock markets, Iowa Caucus, Superbowl winners, super-star deaths… what a week!
Now, some of us are news junkies: we wake up to it, we drive to it, we read it, we watch it before we go to bed. Others of us are on the other spectrum and have given up that anything out there even meets the threshold of “news,” viewing it more as a morass of opinion (can you tell where I fall?). Most likely, this is a spectrum and you land somewhere in between.
There was a great theologian, preacher and pastor named Karl Barth who lived through two of the most difficult news times in modern history: WWI and WWII. When I was learning to be a preacher, my professor told me that Barth said that a really good preacher needs to have the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. I looked up the quote. Barth’s admonition was a bit more broad stroke than just for preachers: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
Here is what I think Barth was driving toward: the Good News serves as the lens through which we view the world. We get this backwards sometimes, thinking that the news of the day will help us to interpret the bible. What ends up happening is that we have a hard time finding “good news” anywhere.
But the Good News helps us to see beneath the panic and the anxiety and the rancor. The Good News: that God so loved the world — the whole world — that Jesus came to show us a better way. In the words of Saint Paul, a “still more excellent way”: the way of love. Love that doesn’t clang like a gong and isn’t wise beyond words. The Good News tells us that God’s love for us is patient and kind; “it bears all things, believes all things. hopes all things, endures all things” (1Corinthians 13).
I know: when there is a lot of news like this past week it is hard to take it in, sift it, absorb it. Try this. Begin with the Good News, the Best News, that God loves the world, the whole world, with a love beyond compare. Then, with those love glasses firmly on your nose, look at the news. Does it feel different?