By Pastor Nate Powell
I’m not sure if we often pause to consider the effect that is being felt in our everyday lives regarding what is taking place in the world around us: both in what we are exposed to, and what we are being desensitized to. Once I’m up and around for the morning, the shower has run, the prayers are prayed, the coffee is on … that’s when the news starts. Of late, my eyes just start to gloss over and it become hard to feel anything, when you hear of:
• Another shooting at a school or business.
• Another crime spree or riot in another city.
• More bad news on the economy front, from gas prices to grocery prices, which gets felt in the pockets of all the poorest among us.
• Another means of sexual deviancy and degeneracy being foisted on our country in the name of “pride” or “choice”.
This steady drip everyday on all of these fronts add up to the point where I turn on the news podcast out of habit, but I tune out half of it because it’s just the same bad news coming over and over. Maybe I’m not alone in this, and some of you are struggling in the same way.
Last week’s message from John 11 reminded us that when Jesus comes into our pain and grief with us, he is not unfeeling or uncaring. He is not desensitized to the pain of his friends. He weeps with us, he reacts, he feels. In that moment, Jesus is very present with his friends Mary and Martha. He is, as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:32, being “kind to one another, tenderhearted.”
When it comes to our tears as believers, we must let them flow. No excuses and no apologies. And we must be ready to cry them with other believers. I actively and pastorally cried last week with several family members who lost or were losing loved ones last week. But those tears came in spite of all that the world is trying to do to desensitize me to the suffering I see around me, that is very present in each of our lives.
I mention this about desensitization, because the world has become a different place than it was two years ago. We stay apart from each other more. We stay at home. We binge stream more shows. We consume more news & social media. And our online lives give a false sense that we are actually with or caring for people. It might be good for us to prioritize a few things to help with the desensitization of all that the world throws at us daily.
  • Prioritize Prayer Daily: Set timers if you have to. Keep a list. Let the news you receive from the media or from others impact your heart enough to bring it before The Lord in prayer. We are called as believers to never cease in praying (1 Thess 5:17). It is our first ministry. Let’s give it our first priority and not be desensitized to what is happening in the world or in the lives of those around us.
  • Turn Off the News: Your pastor is giving you permission. If your TV gets tuned to the news each evening for an entire evening of learning what’s wrong with the world, you have my permission to change the channel or turn the device off. Bad news filling all your free time does nothing to help your attitude in terms of loving your neighbor or doing something to address the issues the world is facing.
  • Give Social Media a Break: Your pastor is giving you permission on this one as well. Social media is a powerful tool, but without limits, social media can fill all the other free time that you TV can’t. Those news feeds are meant to monopolize your time, feed off of your fears and the things that fire you up, and like many things in life, are not healthy if they are not used in moderation. So, commit to a break, set limits, delete the app if you need to.
  • Connect with People and Needs around you: Who are you connecting with to help grow in their faith? Who is helping yours to grow? Your first impact is to be with your family, then with your neighbor. So go to coffee, connect with others, share the love of God and study His word. Serve at your church. When you see the needs around you in the world, let them stir you to action. Attend a school board meeting. Write a congressman/woman. Give time or money to a charity that helps meet the needs. We are to be the people living out Micah 6:8 every day and every week: doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God.
Will you continue to live a desensitized life under the slow drip of bad news every day? Or will your senses be awakened to turn to the one with the power to do something about it … turning to the Lord and both prayer and service? Let’s be growing in the kindness and tenderheartedness that Paul spoke of every day.
Have any good tips you’ve noted to remain sensitive to the needs of people and the world around you? Email me:
Pressing Onward and Upward with you,
Pastor Nate