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Thursday, March 28, 2013

How the News Makes us Dumb


I read the book with this title several years ago. Our obsession with news nearly guarantees that most news outlets reach for the most sensational things they can to get us to keep listening or watching. The book was written before the time when many (most) of us were getting our news from the Internet, let alone smart phones, which I think aggravates this dynamic further. The author argues that most news is far too close to the actual events to determine their real importance.

How important any news is to you goes up or down based on at least three factors:
  • How much it directly affects you
  • How many others it affects
  • How long that effect will last

For instance, I have little interest in reading wedding announcements in the newspaper. They have no relevance to me personally. But 28 years ago, I asked Kat to marry me. That was a hugely important event with immediate and lasting relevance to Kat and I and to quite a few others. Sometimes we obsess over the weather. It often does have personal relevance, but it rarely has any long-term affect except in the case of a terrible storm. You can judge the relevance of any news item in this way. It’s not wise for us to obsess over things that won’t matter for very long.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says, “I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you . . . ” The gospel as you know means “good news.” He goes on to explain the content of this good news in its shortest form:
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (ESV) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
This news affects every person who has ever lived for all eternity. Period. That’s why Paul says that it is of first importance. There is no news with greater significance to everyone, everywhere, at all times.

In one sense, I don’t look at Easter as any different than any other Sunday. We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection every Sunday. I don’t spend more time preparing for Easter than I do other Sundays. Stated differently, I prepare for every Sunday like its Easter. Every Sunday is critical and so I wrestle with God in prayer and study for many hours each week. And no matter how much time I’ve spent preparing, I always spend another couple of hours on Saturday evening and then another hour praying through and internalizing the message on Sunday morning, because this news is the most important news that will ever be delivered and it will always be so.

On the other hand, we usually have the opportunity to share this news with more people at Easter than any other Sunday. For that I am grateful, because no one ever outgrows the need to be reminded of the gospel, whether long time believers actively engaged in church life or a person who usually attends only on special occasions.

This Sunday at Bethany Place I will explore 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11 more thoroughly. You can see the outline for the message below. I’m also looking forward to singing along with a drama performed by our C4M group. I’m praying for our church and all churches on Sunday that people will leave our services impressed not with our creativity and ingenuity but with the One who is risen from the dead. Hallelujah!

How do you see Easter Sunday as different from other Sundays or not? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Believing the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:1–11 (ESV)

1.     Is your belief doing any good?

1 Corinthians 15:1–2 (ESV)  Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

2.     What do you view as most important?

1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (ESV) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

3.     Is there real evidence for belief?

1 Corinthians 15:5–11 (ESV) and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.


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