A bumper sticker popular in certain circles declares “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention”. Am I actually outraged? Or do I just see the outrageous?
Is outrage even possible now in response to moral depravity? Or, is it merely another way to be angry and hateful?
My former colleagues in the news media play a part in this sickening climate of public discussion; I’ve written about this before.
What is called “news” has devolved into a soap opera: winners and losers; left and right; Ins and Outs; Non-mythinformation and conspiracy theory, and the like. Edification now takes a back seat to speculation.
Story lines are driven by ideological narrative, not from a desire to truly inform or enlighten. Hard questions are no longer asked; creating and sharing Fake Outrage are now the order of the day.
So what then, is a discerning person to do? My friend Joel Baker has some excellent observations, which lead to practical answers.
Problems and Solutions
News provokes an emotional reaction in us. We don’t usually notice it much because we’re used to it. If I can watch video of babies being murdered, buildings being bombed and catastrophic natural events without weeping, I have a hard heart. 1 Am I really immune to this? Or do I just spend too much time with it (and at the movies)?
A practical answer: Turn it all off until it hurts to watch it again because my heart is softer. The truth is, I don’t need to know. It’s okay not to know. 2
The more I consume stories of evil and mayhem, the more I become hardened to them. This endless scrolling through the Outrage Machine sows seeds and these seeds produce fruit: very bad fruit. 3
What is that fruit? Anxiety, fear, anger (I might justify this as “righteous anger”), judgment (I condemn someone), scorn (I laugh at someone), skepticism, disappointment, deep sadness, or misplaced hope in some man-made solution.
A practical answer: Prayer that leads to repentance for partnering with these things and a softer heart. 4
News is now like professional gossip: tasty morsels that go down easily but are laced with poison. 5
With everything I see, read, ponder or act upon, my daily choices are to respond, to react, or to ignore. There are only two outcomes: I harden my heart, or soften it.
A practical answer: God’s word. God’s word is truth. It purifies, sanctifies, washes, liberates and edifies me. All other words, including news media and social media, are laced with lies, which come from the father of lies. They ensnare me. They bind me. They slowly build a fortress of fake outrage that wars against true Godly outrage: moral outrage.
The words of the world are a heart-hardening potion. But the words of God are life and soften my heart, when I let them in, and let them rule me. 6
I must guard my heart above all things. It’s a fickle thing 7 and cannot be tamed, but it is the most precious think I own, after my soul. It’s worth guarding because I’m worth it. Jesus thinks so.
He thinks that about you too. 8
1. Jeremiah 18:11b-12 – “Repent now, everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your deeds good. But they say ‘There is no hope! But we will walk after our own devices, and each of us will do according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.”
2. Matthew 6:25 “Therefore, I say to you, take no thought about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?”
3. Matthew 7:18 – “A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit.”
4. Job 23:16 – “For God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me;”
5. Ezekiel 21:7 – “It shall be when they say to you ‘Why do you groan?’ that you shall answer, ‘Because of the news that is coming. And every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water. It comes and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord God.”
6. Ezekiel 36:26 – “Also, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
7. Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?”
8. Ephesians 2:10 – “For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)
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