John R. W. Stott in his book, Between Two Worlds, believes in part that the pastor’s task in preparation for preaching involves both reading the Bible and the newspaper. Of course nowadays that would mean tuning into the media where it is, which for me now is isolated to NPR and the internet. I remember in that book that he and a group I think of other pastors would sometimes go to movies together, and then afterward talk about what they had seen. They were trying to understand their present time and culture, so as to know what the church should do in fulfilling the mission of God in Jesus.
It’s interesting how I seem to go through various cycles in my life in this, going in and out in keeping up with the news in any sort of depth (beyond the headlines). Probably getting surfeited and then burned out during our increasingly long election cycles, and possibly due to imbibing the spirit of pessimism and cynicism characteristic of our times. But I’m more and more convinced that we need to try to stay informed about the world to which we are sent in Jesus. This needs to involve some sort of discipline in our lives in practice, which means engagement in this media only for a period of time overall, so that our time in the word, in prayer, and in other disciplines to which we are called (in general, and unique to us) will not be crowded out.
At the same time we need to remember as my friend Allan Bevere has pointed out, that the real world and the actions of God in his kingdom are found in and out from the church, the community of God in Jesus, not in the world order, nor in and out from the current super power, the United States. Yet while Jesus’ kingdom, as he said, is not from (and in that sense of origin, of) this world and its system, it is present in the world for the world.
So while we’re to think through issues in current speak within the framework of the discussions at hand, we need to keep bringing all of that into the light of the kingdom of God come and present in Jesus. And immerse all of that in prayer and in our study of God’s word. With the questions: How should we the people of God then live? What is God doing and how do we figure in that work? In terms of us together as God’s people in Jesus and especially so out from our local churches each with unique callings within the general calling.
So in all of this, as John R.W. Stott so aptly wrote of in the above mentioned book, let’s endeavor to be led by God’s Spirit together in mission in a world in which the politics of Jesus from the good news of God in him in God’s grace and kingdom, can speak and act in God’s transforming power, so that others may believe and the salt and light which we are as God’s community in Jesus, may have its impact on the world.