On Today’s Headlines

Just because it’s a headline doesn’t mean that it’s important, that it rightly demands your attention, that it immediately affects your world, that it can add to or take away from your hope. In fact, I bet if some of you ignored the headlines for just one day and went out in the woods to have an alien encounter with what our grandparents might have called stillness, one of the few things our world neither can nor ever will try to sell you, you might well begin to consider what it actually is that rightly demands our attention, that immediately affects our world, with reference to which hope can be lost or found. But you won’t find it in the headlines, because the unquenchable fires of the headline news feed only on the world of decay, the world that requires the new to ever become old, the world that skims atop the surface of time desperately groping at what men identify as meaningful today but what moth will identify as food tomorrow. Unless you stop to consider why a man running for mayor of another city matters, what you can actually do about the national debt, how you can protect yourself from Tunisian terrorists, it might never occur to you that it doesn’t matter, you can’t do anything, and that that’s not what is going to kill you; nor will it occur to you that the mayor of your own city, whose name you likely do not know, perhaps does matter, that you can do something about your personal debt, and that your self-indulgence might kill you, your laziness might kill you, your diet might kill you, your stress might kill you, teenage texting and driving might kill you, but a terrorist is less likely to kill you than is your anxiety about terrorism.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is bad to be concerned with and aware of the global scene, especially if you are in a position to do something about it, but I do think it is bad to be unconcerned with and oblivious to the local scene. I’m suspicious of a man who decries world hunger but has never offered to buy a local man’s lunch, who endorses love for the world but doesn’t sit down to eat dinner with his family, who rails against abortion but doesn’t teach his son how to respect a woman, his daughter how to respect herself. The fact is, you can’t make your world different until your world becomes close enough to touch, low enough to look in the eye. That is your world. Everything bigger is a mirage. Anything more important is unimportant. And strangely enough, it is in that little insignificant world of yours, with hardly more than an earshot radius, that you will find meaning, purpose and permanence, because it is in that world that you will find God.

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control” (Gal. 5). These are the things that abide, the things that sink beneath the breathless and brittle surface world of change, seeds that are rooted in the eternal heart of God and grow in the heart that abides in his, the heart willing to forsake the whole world to discover its soul. If you want to find God-sized meaning you’ll have to look in human-sized places. I know. I know. Pity the man whose significance is as small as a manger and only as wide as a wingspan. Pity even the prospect of such man. They did pity Him, in fact.

Perhaps tomorrow, after you ingest the headline news, you will stop for a moment to put your ear to the heavens and listen for the angel that ancient mystic John once heard, the angel that proclaimed what he called the “everlasting good news” in a voice big and loud enough to thunder over “every tribe, tongue and nation” but still and small enough to fit into John’s ear (Rev. 14:6).

Everlasting good news. News that never gets old. News that ever remains good. I think that is the news the world is longing to hear, and perhaps the only news that is in fact new.


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