“I just don’t pay much attention to the news any more. It either makes me mad or it depresses me, and I don’t need that. So I just tune it out.”
This is a sentiment I’ve heard on a few occasions, and in some ways I can relate to it. At times we need to weed out the sources of stress in our lives. And the things on the news these days certainly aren’t very encouraging.
But I’m reluctant to embrace this approach entirely. First Congregational Church’s most famous member was the world-famous journalist: William Allen White. As such, then, I think there’s a place for Christian engagement with current events. Here I’m reminded of the old adage that was attributed to Karl Barth that said we should “preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” There are a couple reasons for this:
To some extent Jesus was building His beatitudes on the foundation of the old covenant in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. There God pronounced a series of promised blessings for obedience to the covenant and curses for disobedience. Jesus followed a similar course in establishing His new covenant (even though it is a covenant based on grace and not on works). He pronounced blessings from God and curses too in Luke 6:20-26. The variation recorded in Matthew’s gospel (in
Matthew 5:3-12) focuses only on the blessings and expands on them quite a bit. The beatitude about mourning is included in both lists (in somewhat varied forms – cf. Matthew 5:4 with Luke 6:21b). Jesus spoke in beatitude form to bring Isaiah’s messianic declaration to life, and particularly portions of Isaiah 61:1-3… “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord…has anointed me…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion…”).
In the New Testament this applies to several areas of life…
(Luke 2:25). And the comfort of the resurrection will not come without the mourning and agony of the cross. And so we engage the mourning of the world around us. We rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
God bless you,
Andrew McHenry, Pastor – First Congregational Church
The blog of Andrew McHenry, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Emporia, Kansas.