I consume news every day, often multiple times a day. I grew up reading the newspaper every morning. Now I mostly get my news on the radio, on my phone, or on my laptop. Over the past few years, I have very intentionally tried to engage diverse news sites, from very liberal to mainstream to very conservative. This has caused the amount of time I spend consuming news media to increase. But I don’t think that is the main reason. I think I am consuming more and more news because it is, well, new. Our culture loves and celebrates newness. Many of us want the newest device, the newest product, the newest diet, or the newest style. We love and celebrate new things. We are so overstimulated as a society that we are always looking for the newest thing to distract and entertain us. Our insatiable appetite for ‘new’ news has created the 24-hour news cycle that feeds us an unceasing stream of ‘Breaking News’ and click-bait headlines. The news has become a reality show. Instead of living our reality, we want the news to entertain, shock, terrify, and connect us to a larger narrative. But God has already given us a larger narrative in the good news of His gospel.
In a recent column in The New York Times, Farhad Manjoo related his experience cutting out all digital news from his life. Here is a short excerpt of his experience:
It has been life changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have—in two months, I managed to read half a dozen books, took up pottery, and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father.
Thinking about Manjoo’s experiment and my own habits has made me wonder: What if the news isn’t doing us any good? What if the news we crave is keeping us from the good news we need? God is perfectly in control of His world. We don’t need to be informed about the latest scandal in Washington as soon as the story breaks or the latest dip in the stock market.
Maybe you aren’t a news junkie like me. Maybe for you it is sports or Netflix or some other media that you regularly consume throughout your day. Whatever it is, news or some other media, I invite you to lay it aside for this week. Take the time that is cluttered with news and fill it with good news. You could easily read all four of the gospels in the time you save. But maybe just take time this week to read through the gospel of Mark. This is the gospel we will be reading as we walk through Holy Week together. Fill your mind and heart with the good news of the gospel, and then you will have some breaking news to share with your colleagues at work, your neighbors, friend, and classmates.