(The) main point is not the news is dumb, but that we are dumb for paying so much attention to it. We have become conditioned to think that the really important stuff of life comes to us in a neat 24-hour news cycle. Worse than that, in our mobile-digital age most of us assume that news is happening every second of every minute of every hour of every day, and if we tune out (or turn off our phones) for more than a few hours (minutes?) we will be rendered out of touch and uninformed. That’s dumb.
The solution is not better news, but less of it. The problem is with the nature of news itself. The news is all about information. It’s about what’s trending now. It rarely concerns itself with the big questions of life. ~Kevin De Young (read more)
Glory is to God what style is to an artist. A painting by Vermeer, a sonnet by Donne, a Mozart aria — each is so rich with the style of the one who made it that to the connoisseur it couldn’t have been made by anybody else, and the effect is staggering. The style of artists brings you as close to the sound of their voices and the light in their eyes as it is possible to get this side of actually shaking hands with them.
In the words of Psalm 19:1, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” It is the same thing. To the connoisseur, not just sunsets and starry nights, but dust storms, rain forests, garter snakes, and the human face are all unmistakably the work of a single hand. ~ Fredrick Buechner
Or to say it another way – only the obedient believe and follow.
True faith does not allow the distinction we sometimes make between head knowledge and heart knowledge. In the Biblical worldview this doesn’t make sense. You can’t really know something in our head without some kind of impact in our heart.
We hear and obey.
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. ~ Deuteronomy 6:1-3
Hear and obey.
The first time the intersection of faith and obedience became real to me was in college while reading the classic book Knowing God by JI Packer.
In the forward of the book Packer describes some people sitting high on a balcony overlooking a road. These onlookers have some interest in the road and where it leads but their discussion is only theoretical. They have endless discussions and debates about how to walk on the road and they offer critique about the travelers who actually walk along the road.
The travelers, on the other hand face, the realities of life on the road. The issues they face may have theoretical angles but their discussions are very practical. They talk about ‘which-way-to-go’ and ‘how-to-make-it’ and “what is next.’ They try to understand what they face but traveling also requires decision and action.
No matter how much the onlookers talk of traveling – they are not travelers. They are spectators. Those who actually walk along the road are travelers.
Faith is not spectator sport. Faith is walking along the way. Repeatedly, consistently, patiently – one foot in front of the other. Hear and obey.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Discipleship happens on the road – it is not done from the sidelines or from the balcony. Parents and grandparents and neighbors and friends walk together and as they do they experience Jesus. Discipleship is following Jesus on the road.
Sometimes I have conversations with people about the mess in our world and these interactions feel like balcony talk. Like the two old guys in the Muppet show who critiqued everything on stage from the comfort of their lofty theater seats. I loved those guys and sometimes I love being those guys but I’ve come to see that obedience and influence begin with walking beside somebody on a journey.
I’ve been moved recently to deep grief over the situation in Iraq and Syria. These comments from Roger Sandberg were part of what God used to move me:
As of last spring, there have been 191,000 people killed in the Syrian conflict, though the BBC suggests that this number is grossly underestimated. Christians, Yezidis, and other minority religious groups in Iraq are facing extreme persecution by way of executions, beheadings, crucifixions, and rape. The country is littered with mass graves and places where people are being buried alive…
All this is happening right now, but it was barely a ripple until Americans saw web videos of the brutal and savage murders of American journalists. Suddenly, presidents and heads of state were “deeply shocked”; suddenly, the nation’s conscience was rattled.
Even that stirring seems to have passed now. But why were we not shocked before an American was killed? Why were we not shocked when we heard the first reports of civilians — children, mothers, brothers, sisters — being murdered, killed, raped, beheaded, executed and persecuted?
Roger then quotes Edmund Burke about the triumph of evil when good men do nothing and goes on to suggest three things to do: pray for persecuted minorities, donate to NGOs that are providing relief , and advocate for support of religious minorities. You can read the rest of Roger’s comments here.