Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Local News

What is your reaction when you hear or read that phrase? If you are watching the news on television (or listening on the radio), do you change the channel (or station)? If you are reading the news headlines on a news website, do you scroll past?

This question came to mind yesterday. I am living at home on spring break this week, and yesterday, while I was in my house for most of the day, I found myself three houses down from a crime scene and evening news cover story. (Read all about it here.) As anyone might, I watched the local news to see the coverage.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I watched the local news. When I am at home on breaks, I watch the national news (my personal preference is NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams). I also keep up with the news online when I am at school via My personal settings on that website provide me with a local news feed, including weather and sports scores, but I rarely even stop scrolling at that section of the page. My focus is generally on the national and international news.

And I suspect that I am not alone. Unless a local event earns national attention (actually, all “national” events are local events – even if that locality is, say, the floor of the United States Senate), lots of people pay little attention. The only exception to this rule, unfortunately, is gossip. Do you fall into this category?

And what might a Christian perspective be on this topic? Does our Lord care about local news, or does He care more about the grand scheme of world events? I think the correct answer is that He cares about both equally.

Consider these two famous phrases from the Psalms: “He determines the number of the stars” (147:4) and “You know when I sit down and when I rise up” (139:2). What greater difference of concerns can there be?

Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus shows concern for both local events, in his individual interactions with the sick, and events on the larger scale, when he speaks to his disciples of the signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24, Mark 13). I think this contrast, if nothing else, demonstrates what the Christian position should be. Christians, like Christ, ought to care about both ends of the spectrum, and everything in between. We must care about the events in the lives of our families, and we must care about the worldwide Church.

Now, quite obviously, one person cannot care about everything. And, in fact, I do not believe that God calls anyone to such a task. One person’s calling might be to business, another to teaching, and another to the arts. Each calling comes with its own set of challenges, and its own unique ways to glorify God and advance His kingdom. But I think the same spectrum of local events to global events applies, and thus the broad responsibility. The businesswoman must care about her individual customers, partners, and so forth, but must also be aware of market conditions and the economy. A teacher has a responsibility for his students, but must also keep himself abreast of developments in his particular discipline. And so forth.

Turning back to my original thought: should we watch or read the local news? I suggest the question is a step further back. Will knowing what is going on at a local level aid us in glorifying God and advancing His kingdom? I think the question must be answered individually. And I think that our preexisting tendencies might point to that answer. We often concern ourselves primarily with what the Lord has laid on our hearts. Perhaps all we need to do is prayerfully follow His leading as we set priorities, and also remember the commands of Scripture, which we know the Holy Spirit will never contradict.

This is Rubio, over and out.

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