Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why I Read the News

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI love a good story. I like surprise twists in a plot. I like new and colorful characters. I like not knowing what happens next and then watching things reveal themselves piece by piece like tesserae in an archaeological dig.

Great literature does this very well and, as a creation of the human imagination, it captures the essence of life as we experience it every day, with all of its comedy and tragedy.

But literature is simply a recreation of the real thing, which is the daily reality of the history of our life and of the history of our world being created each day before our eyes.

For many people, the daily drama of their own lives provides more than enough to satisfy their need for excitement. Television shows, movies and books fill in most of the rest.

For myself, the news of the world provides a large-scale drama that far exceeds the finest product of the most creative expression of human imagination.

History, both human and cosmic, fascinates me because it transcends me. It is the context in which I live and move and have my being. Personally, I am little more than a very minor sub-plot in the story line. Sometimes a minor sub-plot, like Rosencranz & Guildenstern in Hamlet, can become somewhat interesting in their own right. But the greater story in which they exist is what ultimately gives them meaning and purpose.

The daily news of my life, on every scale, gives meaning and purpose to my life as well.

Keeping up with the news enlarges my world and, in a mysterious sort of way, enlarges me as a result.

The accuracy of the news that I read or watch each day is also very important, for I want my reality to be grounded in....well....reality!...and reality is nothing less than truth itself. If my understanding of the world around me is based on lies and half-truths then the context of my life and the meaning and purpose I derive from it will be false as well.

Deep down inside of me is a place, or a voice, or a hunger that compels me to believe that the news of the day, even that on a cosmic scale, is still too small to satisfy. There is, there must be a reality, a truth, that transcends time and space and, in its turn, gives meaning and purpose to it all.

This I believe to be a transcendent or super"natural" world....what is often called the "spiritual" world. As a Christian I believe that "God" (who transcends even the "spiritual") has revealed a few key pieces of this otherwise hidden reality to me.

The most important piece of this reality that God has revealed (meaning it came to us, we didn't "figure it out" or "make it up") is the person of Jesus Christ. This is the man who said, "I and the Father are one." "He who has seen me has seen the Father." "I am the way, the truth and the life." "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." This is the man who died on a cross, but transcended death.

Because I believe and trust in Jesus Christ, I am compelled to believe that God is good, loving, just, merciful and sovereign (meaning having final authority over all things). I believe that I live and move and have my being ultimately in God, and not just in this world.

The meaning and purpose of my life, although obscured by the complexities and confusions of the created world, are revealed, clarified and validated only in a true knowledge of God.

This is why I find the Bible to be so compelling. For the Bible is, indeed, "The Greatest Story Ever Told." It provides the larger context for the news of the day. It provides the larger context for the daily unfolding of my own life. It does, in fact, allow me to "read the signs of the times" in a way that is consistent and well as motivating.

The drama of my personal life is grounded in: 1. Loving God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength; and, 2. Loving my neighbor as myself.

The fact that the world is a place of violent conflict and a place where love of God and love of neighbor is rarely encouraged makes living this sort of life a difficult and challenging one. But I have learned to take the good with the bad. I accept the presence of evil and of good. And I have learned to stand firm on the side of God's goodness, love, mercy, justice and power.

I know my place in the world.

I may not know what will come next in the story, but, because God has given us a "sneak preview," I do know how the story will end: Those who seek to live out God's purpose in their lives in the manner revealed to us by Jesus will, in the end, receive what they seek. On that day I will at last be satisfied.

And that is why I read the news.