Moderator's Comments - Posted 11 August 2015
At Theological College it was suggested that we students read the newspaper, standing up, giving it a cursory reading. I have never followed that advice, I enjoy the daily paper in a comfortable chair, newsprint and all, no online version for me!
Last week, I was asked to speak to a group of men about “how Christians read the newspaper”.
The news is usually confronting: ISIS, travel entitlements, single gender marriage, human trafficking as well as the natural disasters of fire and drought.
The starting point for the believer is the sovereign rule of God over all things, “there is not a single square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” (Abraham Kuyper).
In Luke 12 and 13, Jesus urges his hearers, that just as they read the signs of the weather (Luke 12:54 – 56) and take appropriate action, and as they read their legal chances (Luke 12:57 – 59) so they should understand the days in which they live and take appropriate action.
The crowd then ask Jesus to interpret two events, an act of political atrocity (Luke 13:1) and an industrial accident (Luke 13:4). Jesus tells them that neither event could be understood in an automatic way, as though these people suffered like this because they deserved it. After all, you could not be more innocent than worshipping God at the temple and yet Pilate had the worshippers cut down so that their blood mixed with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus repeats the key to understanding these events and those we read about every day, in verses 3 and 5, “unless you repent, you too will all perish!”
The Sovereign God is transmitting a consistent message through good events (Romans 2:4) and bad events, we must repent, turn from rebellion and submit to Him.
Our world view begins in Genesis 1 – 3 where Adam and Eve rebel against the Creator and are expelled from paradise into an environment of pain, friction, frustration and death (Genesis 3:16 – 19), this environment is God’s curse on their rebellion. The world in which we live, is that post Fall world, the environment into which we have been expelled, it is the result of human rebellion.
Now, through the very events from which we recoil, God is reminding us that this world is the way it is because of His judgement on human rebellion.
The newspaper reports the realities of a fallen world and is a reminder to us of our part in the rebellion that led to this curse.
A friend described the English martyr, John Bradford’s walk with God:
“If he did hear or see any plague or misery, he noted it as a thing procured by his own sins and still added, ‘Lord have mercy upon me’.”
Bradford’s response is a model for our own.
Paul’s message to the Athenians is both the message of the Christian preacher and according to Jesus, it is the message God is transmitting through the news, “God commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
By turning away from our rebellion and submitting to the Lord Jesus, we will still experience the curse of the fallen environment, but will now have the strength of God’s Spirit to thrive in this reality, and we will have the hope, through Christ, of re-entering the paradise of God again, so tragically lost through human rebellion.
The newspaper leads the believer to penitence to God, faith in Christ and a refreshing of hope for the future.
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17)