If you watch the news, have you thought about how it might be negatively affecting your love for God and others? I hope so, because in my experience, watching the news without wisdom is one of the key ways Christians fail to protect their hearts.
I have seen this in my own life and in the lives of other Christians. Let me explain.
Since the pandemic hit back in March, I have been watching a ton of news. I have always enjoyed keeping up with current events, including politics. But when COVID-19 hit, and given that it is an election year, I have been watching more than ever. Because I want to get both sides of the debate, I regularly watch CNN and Fox News.
Hypocrisy and Politics
Recently I began to notice, more than ever, that watching the news is discouraging me from cultivating a heart oriented in love towards others. Consider an example. One of the big stories last week on Fox News was about how Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, visited a hair salon without wearing a mask, even though it was supposed to be closed due to Coronavirus-related ordinances.
Many commentators and columnists criticized her for being elitist and hypocritical. The point of this blog is not to defend or condemn her. From my perspective, hypocrisy should be pointed out on both sides of the political aisle. Hypocrisy is not unique to one political party. It is a human problem that seems to manifest itself powerfully in politics.
How Does It Affect You?
My point is to ask how watching such coverage affects us as Christians. How does it affect you? How does it affect me? To be honest, when I watch such coverage, it doesn’t make me think, “I should pray for her. She is made in God’s image and Jesus died for her just as much as he did for me. Given what Jesus and Paul said about the human heart–in Mark 7 and Romans 3–I better look deeply at my own tendency towards hypocrisy before condemning hers.
To be honest, I find myself feeling disgusted. I find myself wanting to take political sides. I find myself getting angry.. I certainly don’t find myself being encouraged to grow in love and compassion. This type of coverage is not unique to one side of the aisle, by the way. It happens on both sides.
Guard Your Heart
“Above all else,” said King Solomon, “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). It’s hard to imagine how Solomon could have emphasized the importance of guarding our hearts more strongly.
Cultivating a heart for God and others is far more important than who wins the next election.
My point here is simply to encourage Christians to think about how watching and reading the news might be affecting their hearts. If I am honest, I realize that it has certainly had a negative effect on mine. Will you take a look within?
Watching News with Wisdom
Does that mean we shouldn’t watch the news? Not necessarily. For me, it means being very attentive to the way the news is presented. If a program is demeaning or dehumanizing, regardless of which side of the aisle it is on, I turn it off. And it means I ask myself a question regularly, “Is this encouraging me to love God and love others?”
If not, there’s better ways to spend my time. As Solomon said, above all else, we must guard our hearts. This means weeding out anything that discourages us from cultivating a loving heart towards God and others.
 For the record, I do recognize the place of righteous anger. As we see in the Psalms, there is a time for anger and outcry at injustice and hypocrisy. My focus here is to push back against the “cancel culture” narrative that fosters leading with anger towards others without concern for (1) Looking within first, and (2) Asking how such a response affects our own hearts.
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If you are looking for ways to creatively and compassionately engage our culture with a Christian worldview, check out A New Kind of Apologist.