Everyone can become sick of the news. Here’s why we should keep watching anyway...
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Lot lived in Sodom and Gomorrah about 4,000 years ago and the account of his life is detailed in the book of Genesis. What was life like in these sister cities? Halley’s Bible Handbook called them “cesspools of iniquity.”
The New Testament says that life in Sodom and Gomorrah caused Lot to be “greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds)” (II Pet. 2:7-8, Revised Standard Version).
In other words, Lot was worn down by the awful conditions he “saw and heard” in these sin-filled cities. This happened “day after day.”
We can all feel similarly when we watch what is going on in the world, right? Everywhere we turn, there is another report of division, lies, deception, hatred, racism, murder, adultery and debauchery. Faced with all this, the natural inclination is to press the power button on your TV remote, cancel that newspaper subscription, and unfollow any media organization on social media.
You just want some peace.
Know that you are not alone. This is part of a phenomena called news fatigue. Pew Research Center found that roughly 66 percent of Americans feel worn out by the amount of news that is out there. Many feel exhausted by the 24/7 news cycle. Yet realize that these numbers are from 2020—how much more is this true today!
The constant barrage of bad news is even worse for those striving to live God’s way of life. You can look in your Bible and see that people should not kill, swear, commit adultery, lie, cheat or steal. Yet this is a blow-by-blow description of this day and age. It can feel beyond depressing to watch.
Equally troublesome are the outright inept ways authorities tend to grapple with today’s problems. Such examples can leave us feeling helpless and wanting to look away.
Jesus Christ said that conditions just before His return would be “as it was in the days of Lot” (Luke 17:28). This speaks of a time just ahead of us, but it still can be instructive for us today.
Jesus’ words are code language for “go back and study Lot’s days so you can recognize what to watch for and be ready.”
Elsewhere, Jesus bluntly commanded us to watch.
Notice Luke 21:36, which states: “Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
There is incredible depth of meaning to this verse. Certainly, built in here is to watch our spiritual conditions. But it can also be read to watch world conditions and events. Doing so is a key to be “accounted worthy” by Jesus Christ Himself.
But why would Jesus want us to keep our focus on world trends and conditions? Why would He want us to watch the news?
Just keeping your eyes glued to endless media coverage is not what Christ had in mind. Notice that His command has a second part to it: “pray always.” Prayer is key to getting the most out of news watching.
Think of the Lord’s Prayer. Built into this outline on how to talk to God is this powerful phrase: “Your Kingdom come” (Luke 11:2).
Have you ever asked what this means? We are to pray daily for God’s Kingdom to come. Repeatedly in the books of Matthew and Mark, this is called the “gospel of the Kingdom.” In other words, God’s Kingdom is the centerpiece of His master plan for humanity.
A prophecy about Christ in Isaiah helps show what it will be like when this Kingdom arrives: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder…Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end…” (9:6-7).
Two thousand years ago, Christ came to become the Savior for all mankind. Notice: At that time the government—Kingdom of God—was yet to be “upon His shoulder.”
When God’s Kingdom does arrive, peace will spread forever. Clearly this has not happened yet!
Back to news watching. When we see the terrible tragedies and blatant sin going on in the world today, it should not make us recoil or stick our heads in the sand. Rather, it should drive us to our knees to pray for God’s Kingdom to come.
But this involves knowing what that Kingdom is. Read What Is the Kingdom of God? to get a full picture. Knowing God’s clear Bible plan will help bring detail and fervency to your prayers.
Get this straight: Watching today’s terrible world conditions should help us look more fervently toward God’s Kingdom—when He will finally solve mankind’s worst problems.
Why This World?
Yet what is God waiting for? Why not bring unending peace right now? Why all the suffering?
These are all valid questions that demand clear answers.
For the last roughly 6,000 years, God has allowed man to decide for himself what is right and wrong. God is allowing time and space to prove that man’s ways do not work. He wants this point to be abundantly clear before He intervenes.
This brings up another point to keep in mind when consuming news. The governments of today simply do not work! They are broken, corrupt and slow to get anything done. Even the most well-meaning politicians fail to bring lasting change.
Why is this the case? Read what the prophet Jeremiah said: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
Make proving this verse a main focus of your news watching. Conditions in this world will remind you constantly that man cannot “direct his steps”—he cannot govern himself!
For this reason, as you watch, avoid taking political sides at all costs.
Jesus’ words are again instructive here. He told Pilate this just before the crucifixion: “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight…but now is My kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).
There is no unending peace yet, which means God’s Kingdom is not here yet. Therefore, Christ’s servants should not “fight”—should not get embroiled in political debates and infighting.
You should be starting to see why the Luke 21 command is only to watch and pray. We must not try to take matters in our own hands, no matter how much we would like to do so.
Realize that a Christian is called to come out of this world, including its politics, religions and systems of government (Rev. 18:4). One cannot come out of something while at the same time staying in it to try to fix it. It is one or the other.
Christians should support the preaching of the true gospel of the Kingdom of God, which is prophesied to soon come and finally put an end to these problems. No human government or political party is able to do that—the last 6,000 years have made that abundantly clear.
If you ever wonder whether God expects Christians to get involved in politics or activism, ask yourself a simple question: Which political party of men or activist group would Jesus Christ support if He were on Earth? Which political party or activist group did He endorse when He was on Earth?
Sigh and Cry
If God does not want us embroiled in political debates, what does He want us to do as we watch the news? How should we feel as we witness the sad state of current affairs?
The answer is found in Ezekiel 9:4, where God says, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”
While the events of this verse are prophecy yet to be fulfilled, it is still instructive to us today. Sighing and crying are two reactions we should have when we see the sin and abominations in this world. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines the words translated “cry” and “sigh” as: “groan (in pain or grief), gasp” and “lament,” respectively. These terms portray an attitude of sorrow, heaviness, mourning and longing for the Kingdom because of all the behaviors that we see that are contrary to God’s Way.
Yet this does not include condemning those who commit such acts.
The Bible clearly states we must avoid vengeful feelings. Note Proverbs 24: “Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles: lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him” (vs. 17-18).
Those who live God’s Way must be very careful not to succumb to a self-righteous attitude of “Yeah, sock it to them, God!”
An account in Luke 9 exemplifies this. Jesus had determined to go to Jerusalem and “sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him. And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will You that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?” (vs. 51-54).
Jesus sternly rebuked His disciples for this and said, “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (vs. 56).
One of the greatest risks to news watching is growing numb to all that is going on. It can be easy to forget that events are affecting real people with families, friends, hopes and dreams.
For this reason, seek out news sources that show how events are impacting individual lives. This will help you sigh and cry and have empathy for what others are going through. If a news source is constantly pushing a political agenda—and dehumanizing those who are being impacted by the news story—it is likely time to move on to other sources for current events.
Do your homework on news stories and outlets. Never make opinion shows your main sources of news, and realize that most cable news talk shows are opinion based. In addition, never take any news you read on social media as fact without checking its veracity on more established websites.
These same steps will help you avoid fringe ideas and conspiracy theories. God wants us to be moderate in everything we do (Phil. 4:5). If you cannot find multiple reputable sources discussing an item of news—it is almost certainly not true.
Doing all of these things will help you to continue to have outflowing care and concern for your fellow man.
How to Stay Alert
Regular readers of The Real Truth know we use biblical principles to explain current events and trends going on in the world. Using God’s Word as a lens to make sense of a confusing age is one crucial way to avoid becoming fatigued by it.
The Bible, itself a historical book, accurately documents that for millennia mankind has been unable to stop the tide of bad news. Understanding the why behind current events should help you wake up and pay serious attention to the news with a sense of urgency—all while resisting the urge to tune it all out.
God commands all to watch what is going on in the world. It is not an easy task—but He wants us to do it to draw closer to Him. Seeing this world for what it is should make us yearn for His Kingdom.
Make no mistake, until God intervenes in mankind’s affairs, the world will grow more complex, more broken, more dark. In addition, the Bible foretells cataclysmic events to occur just before God’s Kingdom arrives.
To make sense of all that is occurring now—and will happen soon—keep reading The Real Truth. At rcg.org/realtruth, we post news and analysis articles daily to help make sense of what is going on.
Back to the example of Lot being vexed by what he saw and heard in Sodom and Gomorrah. He was worn down by what he witnessed around him. That quality was one of the reasons God protected him from the destruction that came upon those sinful cities. Lot and his two daughters were the only ones who escaped.
God promises to protect those who do what He says. While Lot had his flaws, God considered him both “righteous” and “just” (II Pet. 2:7-8).
Keep watching the news, even when you may be sick of it. Allow world conditions to drive you to your knees in prayer—and closer to your Creator. Yet these are just two commands He has for those striving to live His Way. Visit rcg.org to see all God desires from Christians—and ultimately all humanity when His Kingdom comes.