When I was a boy in the 60’s futurists told us how great things would be reduced work weeks, disease free, personal flying machines and most important; happiness and a future of.
Yes there was turbulence, still there was hope. 1967 was the year Louie Armstrong recorded it’s a wonderful world.
40 years later cynicism is pouring in. Bad News has always been with us but now we hear all of it from all over the world. Immediately!
Even if it has no direct impact on our lives we are affected, after all we are in a Global Village, and we have a responsibility to intervene.
The international bad news that is captivating our attention at the moment is the tragedy of Burma. But it isn’t the Burma situation that motivated this sermon. I reached a bit of a saturation point earlier this week when I learned that I can no longer use my Nalgene bottle. My scratched blue bottle has been with me for years, I have carried it around the world. Until this week it had an honoured spot on my desk. It isn’t like I needed it at home but I kept it half filled with water and sipped out of it occasionally why? Because, that’s why.
Now I learn that my trusted blue friend has been killing me slowly. It has been removed from its place of honour, but I don’t have the heart to throw it out – yet. It’s stowed in the cupboard beside the Brita filters. Wait and see they’re next.
I was reading some local bad news online earlier this week:
News that is controversial, politically charged and polarizing.
I scrolled down to the blogs. Most of the blogs were filled with criticism. I guess that’s no surprise.
A few offered constructive criticism. But by far – most were venting, and mean-spirited, tearing apart those who were attempting to offer some kind of balanced perspective: a pervasive and lingering feeling of hopelessness, futility, and cynicism, even nihilistic.
What should our response be?
How do we overcome the hopelessness and redeem the cynicism brought on by Bad News?
How do we help others do the same?
The Bible passage I am referring to is the same passage Dave used last week. It stuck with me past lunch last Sunday. Dave you know you have done well when your communication creates that kind of stickiness. Consider this sermon a continuation of Dave’s good word. The piece was written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. He was under house arrest in Rome, a hopeless and futile situation. He was living the bad news.
Philippians 4: 1-9
1 My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.
2I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn’t want his children holding grudges. 3And, oh, yes, Syzygus, since you’re right there to help them work things out, do your best with them. These women worked for the Message hand in hand with Clement and me, and with the other veterans—worked as hard as any of us. Remember, their names are also in the Book of Life.
4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
6-7Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (The Message)
What is Paul saying?
There is enough bad news without being weighed down by disagreements and fractured relationships: when we are in broken relationships we less able to cope with the Bad News of life. Paul is referring to two women at odds with one another, but the application is broader. It goes beyond the personal. Each of us participates in a number of official and unofficial social contracts. As representatives of Christ we have a responsibility to define ourselves by what we are for rather than what we are against. We are to be conciliatory not divisive.
It is much easier to look overcome feelings futility when you and I are at peace with each other. Hope overcomes cynicism when we forgive.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying pray. We have these conversations in our heads – fretting and worrying conversations. We need to change the conversation.
Bring God into our head space. Tell him what your worries are.
Ask him to help you. This is more than a technique for feeling better. Christ loves you and wants to help you – ask him
I sometimes wake up fretting and worrying early in the morning. There are few solutions to our worries at three am. I try to make that time productive so instead of worrying and fretting I take that time to pray for others. I ask God who I should pray for – and sometimes it is one of you.
Paul encourages us to reflect on things true, noble, reputable, authentic—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Consider placing boundaries on how much contact you have with the worst and the ugliest. For some of us that may mean limiting how much we expose ourselves to online news feeds, or news papers or evening news. Be discerning with movies and TV. Even good viewing can be bad news if it feeds your hopelessness and cynicism. I have been reading a lot of Douglas Coupland. I enjoy his insights, his storytelling, his style – and he’s Canadian. I need to take a break the angst I need to bring balance into my life, so I’m reading “The Shack.”
Reading the bible is woven into my life practice. It contains words of life, it embodies the Good News. Even if you don’t understand it – it is good for you.
You may need to manage the time you spend in certain relationships. There are people who bring out the best in us and there are people who bring out less than the best in us.
They are not necessarily bad people but their interests and passions and their world view may be a catalyst for the negativity in our lives. I need to laugh more and maybe you do as well. Find something that is life giving no matter how small that action is. We rented a car with satellite radio. We spent a 21/2 hour drive listening to comedy and laughing.
Find people who bring joy to your life, better yet, become that person.
The spirit of Christ is in us: we can be the ones who face down futility, and hopelessness. We have an opportunity to challenge the Bad News of Life. Gandhi said: be the change you want to see in the world.
Still, there are times when counseling and intervention, even love is not going to change the Bad news. There are times when the outcome is bad. The Apostle Paul never left prison, he was executed. Even in these circumstances. God, makes everything work together, creating a heavenly harmony. It is in these times we discover that success is measured not by the outcome but simply by being: noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious; the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly.
That is how we compete with Bad News. That is how we overcome the pervasive and lingering feeling of hopelessness, and cynicism in our world. It is all Christ who is us, asks of us and we trust him to take care of what we cannot understand. Christ cares about your life; He cares about the circumstances of your life.
~ Darrell Muth