Colossians 4:3-4: Pray That I May Speak Clearly!

April 1, 2015

You might call me a news junkie. In a day’s time, I hear four radio newscasts, read the morning newspaper, catch a few articles from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or something else linked by the daily Church and the World news compendium. I read TIME Magazine cover-to-cover every week, watch the Nightly News on TV, 60 Minutes on Sunday night, and occasionally while I am sewing turn on BBC World News or the PBS News Hour.

I am now sick of it.

I am sick of the repetition of news stories, looking for new angles, new sensations, new fears, and new salacious details until the next new story comes along.

I am sick of the speed with which people come to judgment of events, giving no pause for grief, for review, for prayer, for study, or for compassion.

I am sick of people not doing their homework, commenting on events, texts, or rulings without knowing what they are talking about.

I am sick of the narcissism that drives so much of our media and political processes these days. People are so bent on getting their own particular way, point of view, or priority adopted by all that they have lost sight of the common good.

I am sick of the burdens our society is putting on public servants, CEOs, and even entertainers. Woe be unto you if, in a moment of adolescent stupidity you said something dumb (you define) or twenty years ago supported a cause that is no longer politically correct. Somebody who doesn’t like you, or suffers from PC scrupulosity, or craves power at any cost, is going to “investigate” and smear you until you resign. Pretty soon, the only ones left to lead are going to be the ones who crave power and smear others. Do we really want to be a country like that depicted in House of Cards?

I am sick of the impact news media have on the development of news stories. They have gone beyond reporting what has happened to making things happen simply by repeating ad nauseam some speculation or other.

I am heartsick at the condition of our world, and heartsick that American news outlets are so silent on events and trends in other parts of the globe. [My eyes and ears were opened to this dynamic when I lived in Zimbabwe for a few months in 1994. While the U.S. was fixated on O. J. Simpson’s arrest, Africans were celebrating Mandela’s election and recoiling from the genocide in Rwanda. O. J. Who?]

Yes, I am sick of it.

We live in a world saturated with messages. Many of them are not true. Some seem to glorify death, destruction, and catastrophe. Others are merely inane. For some reason, however, they “sell,” and message delivery is a business.

Against this backdrop, we hear the words of the Apostle Paul who is incarcerated because of his evangelistic activities. He has spent the previous twenty years or so promoting one message: Jesus is Lord over all creation, his salvation is available to all people, the church is empowered by the Holy Spirit to glorify God and make known the mysteries of the gospel. By all measures, Paul was a brilliant apologist, a tireless teacher, and a courageous traveler. Even from a prison cell, he is optimistic and looking forward to new open doors for the gospel:

3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message,
so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ,
for which I am in chains.
4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Some of the dynamics I mentioned above make it difficult sometimes for Christians to be clear about the Message, the gospel. Our audience, particularly in America, has very tight filters and low tolerance for challenge to its narcissism. Paul’s prayer is that he can be clear and bold to proclaim “the mystery of Christ,” which at the very least humbles us under God’s sovereignty. How can we clearly uphold the kindness of God’s purposes, in hopes that it will lead the world to repentance? (Romans 2:4) . . . No, I don’t have a quick answer, either, which is why this prayer request is not only Paul’s but ours!

More in my next post.




5 Responses to “Colossians 4:3-4: Pray That I May Speak Clearly!”

  1. Thomas L Fultz, Ruling Elder Says:

    You have spoken truth about the context in which we live as God’s children and pointed us to a model for our prayers. Thank you for your clarity. I anticipate further insight in the next posting. May you sense God’s peace in the chaos around us.

  2. Jodie Gallo Says:

    One news junkie to another: When something happens somewhere and you hear about it a thousand times, somehow there is a part of your brain that must have evolved before the advent of radio, TV and the printing press that is convinced it actually happened a thousand times. But it didn’t. It only happened once. And because you see it in your living room, it somehow feels like it actually happened in you living room. Or in your backyard. Even though it happened in a land far far away and was probably a once in 10 million chance event at that. And we are filled with dread.

    I think news junkies are more savvy to this effect than most, and we learn to ignore that feeling. But it still has herd effects.

    One of them is that it creates a high level of background noise one needs to overcome if one wants to tell good news. The other is that it can cause a stampede, and it is really hard to stand and speak rationally to a stampede. And we see it in Church just as much as everywhere else.

    (I did stop reading Time magazine years ago. They reported a couple of times on things I had in depth factual knowledge about, and they were so far off the mark, and so disinterested in learning the facts, that I just wrote them off as fiction writers – for ever)

    Jodie Gallo

    • revmary Says:

      Well said, Jodie! I had a young mother in my parish at the time of 9/11, and unlike most others who carried a heavy grief, she freaked out as though the events had happened here on the West Coast and were going to happen again right in her living room. She was irrationally protective of her children, obsessed with safety, fear-mongering within the congregation, etc. etc. It was sad and maddening at the same time. She had the TV on night and day, which fueled the dynamic. The gospel was simply drowned out in her life.

    • Paul Says:

      The herd mentality is the hardest thing about the news cycle. Somebody created a memorable catchphrase, and it gets repeated so many times that rational thought is no longer possible. Somebody created the meme that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Law is discriminatory — and it got repeated so may times people assume it’s true. And if it’s true then we must respond — even if the response doesn’t make sense.
      So the Governor of Connecticut forbids state-funded travel to Indiana because of the law. But wait, a small voice, easily overwhelmed by the crowd protested, Connecticut has its own Religious Freedom Restoration act on their books. Does that mean Connecticut state employees shouldn’t travel to Connecticut either?
      Once the stampede is on the move, people get caught up in and don’t really appreciate (or even care) who’s getting trampled. I noticed Gradye Parsons has added his voice to the stampede…

  3. Joe Duffus Says:

    This post really spoke to me, since I’m a news industry veteran. The mob mentality seen so clearly here and with the “hands up, don’t shoot” part of the story from Ferguson emphasizes that people really don’t think critically anymore. They seem to adopt the first slogan that resonates with them and then treat it as the gospel (pun very much intended).

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