The world is in chaos right now. I get overwhelmed daily as I try to keep up with current events and realize the evil that is taking place.
I find it overwhelming to hear about war, destruction, slavery, poverty, natural disasters, and more evil under the sun. And worse, it’s nearly impossible to discern whether or not what we are being told about it all is truthful or not. I read an article in the New York Times this weekend which opened my eyes a bit more,
“…in 1983, 50 companies owned 90 percent of the media consumed by Americans. By 2012, just six companies…controlled that 90 percent…” (“When Media Mergers Limit More Than Competition,” by James B. Stewart, July 25, 2014, The New York Times Company.)
Now, a potential merger between 21st Century Fox and Time Warner Inc. would reduce control of the major Hollywood studios to five owners, from six, and major television producers from five to four.
Do you think we should depend upon only FIVE OWNERS of major media outlets to learn the TRUTH about what is going on in the world today?
The article also quoted former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who wrote the following in the majority opinion that decided the 1945 antitrust case involving major newspaper publishers and The Associated Press: “The widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.”
The welfare of the public. That’s pretty strong. We need competition among our news media, just as in business, for our own welfare. If our news is coming from only a handful of sources, the chances that many reporters and journalists are competing to get to the truth of the matter is much smaller. Everything begins sounding the same. This is evident now as you can turn from one news station to the next, or read one report after another which reports an incident using the same phraseology to describe it. It’s no coincidence. We so often get spoon-fed talking points or party lines, delivered by government officials or the other sources of the information, such as a corporation or privately owned entity (such as the very ones that own the media outlets?) – and they call it “reporting the news.”
Can we trust such information?
As the public becomes dependent upon these centralized sources of news, we also become more and more like “sheep,” being herded in one direction, developing one collective mentality. If you begin thinking, or writing, or speaking outside of the box of what seems to be “the norm” of society, you become ridiculed and labeled. These days, it’s the popular thing to label differing opinions and those who express them as prejudiced, ignorant, or worse.
In other words, go along with the crowd, or face the proverbial lynch mob.
It’s frightening to go against the grain of society. It takes a special kind of bravery. Even if your life isn’t exactly in danger (and sometimes, these days, it actually IS in danger, depending upon what/when/where your belief is expressed), you just might need to be brave enough to risk the loss of social standing, jobs, friendships, and more if you choose to express the unpopular belief of the time.
I could go into many contemporary examples right now – there are so many issues facing us that are polarizing: wars, immigration, political scandals, religion, education, poverty, etc…and the different ways that people believe they should be handled. Those are important discussions to have, maybe here on this blog another time.
But right now, I want to just put out this one thought, mainly as a message to myself and to my fellow Christ-followers: It is vitally important that you stand up for your beliefs, and that you bravely voice your opinions, despite your fears.
My fellow Christians, we have been given the TRUTH, God’s Word. And it is our mission to share that Truth, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the entire world.
It is the Great Commission, given to us by Jesus Christ. He didn’t say, go into the world and make a lot of money. Go into the world and raise a big ol’ family. Go into the world and get out of it as much as you can get.
No, he said GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES.
And how do we do that? By spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
And yet, we are silent on so many issues, and miss so many opportunities.
Whether it’s because of our fear of making a mistake, offending others, losing a few Facebook friends, or maybe just because we’re practicing good ol’ self-preservation, we become content to sit on the sidelines, watching the battle rage on in front of us.
Sometimes we enter the fray with a loud burst of self-righteous indignation – but do we bother to back it up with the Truth? And wouldn’t the Truth be heard more clearly if it were delivered in love, rather than in spite, or by just trying to be right all the time?
If we do not express our opinions now, while we have the freedom to do so, we will eventually fall into the danger of losing the freedom to do so at all. Who will hear the Word when the only voice to be heard is the collective baa of the sheep herd? Or herder.
But we must be clear, and we must be in control. Remember the Fruit of the Spirit? Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control. (Galatians 5:22) We must be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to deliver the Truth in a way that is clear and acceptable to others.
Near the end of his ministry, the apostle Paul was in a Roman prison, and realizing that he was reaching the end of his race. At this time he commissioned his delegate, Timothy, to carry on his work of spreading the Gospel throughout the world. He wrote this letter to Timothy, urging him to be brave despite the circumstances, before he was martyred in Rome:
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5, NLT)
Timothy was scared. The opposition he faced was very real. The guy whose role he was to carry on was getting ready to be killed for doing the very thing he was being asked to do.
Paul didn’t pull any punches in describing to Timothy all that he had to look forward to. He told him that people were going to reject what he was saying, and reject him personally. But he told him to keep a clear mind and trust God for the strength that he was lacking, even when he would come to face trials, alone:
“The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And He rescued me from certain death.” (2 Timothy 4:17)
In that last phrase, when Paul mentioned that God had delivered him from “certain death,” he really meant it. In case you are wondering about some of the hardships Paul endured for the sake of the Gospel, read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27:
“…I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
And that’s only part of it.
The point is, something worth doing is worth doing no matter what the circumstances – and we can do it even when we are scared.
As Paul told Timothy, GOD would give him the courage and strength he needs, when he needs it.
And when everybody else abandons him, GOD would stand by him.
And then he went on to say,
“Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into His heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18)
Paul said this even as he knew he was near the end of his life. He was ready for it, and he was confident in God’s power even as he was looking death in the face.
This is where Christians must be bold – because we can stand firm on our belief in eternal life after death. We can face the turmoil of this world, we can stand up to evil in every form, because we have an eternal perspective on life, knowing that God will deliver us safely through everything – even if that means safely through death to his heavenly Kingdom.
So, the question is, are we willing to stand up with courage for what we believe?
I confess that I am weak in this area, but desire to become stronger. I am a “people-pleaser” by human nature, but my desire is to give that human nature over to the power of the Holy Spirit in my life to become a “God-pleaser” only.
This isn’t something I have been able to achieve overnight, despite my desire to do so, and despite all my best human efforts. This is a process that I work towards daily, and it is something that can only be achieved in the power of the Holy Spirit. Period.
There are days I disappoint God. There are days I disappoint myself. And there are days I disappoint others. However, I am working toward the goal of not worrying about disappointing myself and others…but caring only about pleasing that “Audience of One.”
So, while our news media is being used to move our society more and more toward the end game of spreading the lies and propaganda of the “elite” in their attempts to silence the individual, and to censor the Word of God, will we as Christians move toward standing up for the Gospel of Christ, even if we are abandoned by everyone? Even if we must suffer for it? Even if it seems that we are standing alone?
Remember, fellow Christ-followers – you are NOT ALONE: The Lord will stand with you, and give you strength!