In the World But Not of It
We are never too far away from news that saddens, enrages, and sinks us. It may seem that things have never been worse, but in fact things have never been better; it’s just that we have unprecedented access to information and that providers of information have every incentive to sell us news that riles us up. Nevertheless, though we are absorbing a disproportionate amount of extremism, that extremism does exist, and it rightly aggravates us.
What are we to about this? Let the waves crash over us until we are seasick and drowning? Avoid it altogether and let ignorance be our defense? Balance our consumption of the irritating with a steady dose of cat videos? To be sure, there is a place for a media fast, and for escaping from reality by consuming mindless entertainment. But these must be the exceptions; what is the rule?
I believe it is good to be informed and even to be outraged. In fact, I would venture to say that most of us are not informed or outraged enough. But, as with any good thing, it by itself is not good. Only God is good; everything else can either be used by us to get closer to that goodness or further away.
I reject an approach to life that says that the presidential election and social justice and local politics are too messy and too dirty and that we should be above such frays. That smacks of an elitism and a privilege that most of us cannot afford to enjoy. But I also reject an approach to life that gets mired in those things, and is unable to rise above them and trust in a good and loving God to work good and loving things through us in these things.
There is a familiar phrase that captures this sentiment, which is being "in the world but not of it." With eternity on our minds but with our hearts fully open to all that may encroach upon us in this world…this is the posture I recommend. And tomorrow I will say more about this subject.