Watching the news can be an awful lot like watching sports.
You click to ESPN: Who’s ahead? Who scored? Who’s behind?
Now click to CNN: Who’s ahead? Who scored? Who’s behind? See a few similarities?
I catch myself with that “Who won? Who lost?” mindset watching the news, and certainly did years ago as a kid. It was the daily snapshot view of who (or what) was ahead or behind—the daily highlights and instant replays.
But I remember as a child having a different feel of this news-watching experience at my grandparents’ house… and, oh, I got plenty of chances because Grandad always loved to watch the news!
News-watching with Grandad, though, was more like watching just one short chapter of a very long epic book or play. He always talked about the daily events as if they fit into a bigger picture, like they gave him signs to gauge the times.
Sometimes his armchair news commentary sounded quite practical, especially when it came to money and investing. “If trends like this continue,” he might reason, “then I may need to rethink a few things.”
Other times his grandfatherly observations were more general, especially as he talked about the “evil” of communism during the Cold War era.
So why was Grandad more of an analyzer than a play-by-play commentator?
Well, Grandad was always steeped in God’s Word and had a firm reliance on the fact that God was in control, no matter what the events of the day.
I vividly remember him sitting in his oversized Lazy-Boy for hours at a time, with His assortment of Bibles and Bible commentaries on a shelf within reach of his right hand… with news magazines, financial journals and a remote control for the TV within reach of his left hand.
As much as Grandad loved keeping up with current events, he savored His quiet “study time,” as he called it, with God’s Word even more.
Grandad knew that every day events were only small pieces of a larger puzzle. A puzzle that God has designed and ultimately controls as part of His plan for His beloved creation.
And that’s why Grandad had such a hunger for keeping up with current events, so he could see and marvel at how God’s plan would reveal itself over time. He watched the news with a biblical worldview, using God’s Word as his lens for seeing and processing.
What a model for two granddaughters who are now parents today.
And what a challenge for all of us:
Do we watch or read the news with our children, or when they’re not around?
Do we talk about the events we see or hear about from the standpoint of what the Bible teaches?
Are we ourselves good students of the Bible—and history—so that we can see and discuss patterns that are bigger than the everyday headlines?
Certainly it’s more comfortable as parents to keep our children in the safe cocoon of our home, away from ungodly influences invading through the TV—an urge to be “in the world, but not of the world.”
Jesus even warned His followers that we would be out of step with the world: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own,” Jesus warned in John 15:19 (NIV). “As it is, you do not belong to this world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
That passage can suggest that our “cocoon” instincts may be quite natural! After all, who wants to be hated by the world…it’s a lot more comfortable to stay away from outside influences as much as possible.
CLICK. Leave the TV off. Just read the Bible.
Yet Jesus’ own actions and observations chronicled in the Bible suggest He did not stay in a cocoon. He was very aware of His times—yes, with a divine knowledge as our sovereign Lord, but also as a keen observer as He walked this earthly life. He fully knew the infighting and hypocrisies of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He observed—and later returned to condemn—the dishonorable practices outside the Temple. He knew the prejudices against Samaritans. He knew the oppressive hand of Roman rulers.
Christ knew events of His earthly days. Shouldn’t we? And shouldn’t we teach our children to do the same?
After all, Jesus admonishes us in the Gospel account of Matthew to be aware of the times so we can look for signs of His return. Using the example of changing fig leaves, He warns us to watch so, “when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (Matt. 24:33, NIV)
How can we watch for the signs of the times if we stay in our cocoon?
And, more importantly, how can we watch the news with discernment, instead of like a sporting event?
Well, we can learn a lesson from Grandad. He wouldn’t grab the remote control with his left hand, until he grabbed his Bible on the right. Now that’s balance we can teach our children!