Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

When you give a town 24hr news…

You start a new business that wants to show the news of your town 24/7. What are you going to talk about for 24 hours a day 7 days a week? Well, there is that fire at the Smith’s house. You could do some investigation into that. Then there was that teacher of the year. You should probably do a nice interview with her.

Now what? Everything else is kinda normal. But, you need to sell ads to stay open. You can’t have dead air. You need people tuning in. You think, “There has to be more.”

As you go back and do some research you realize more people were tuning in and sharing the story about the fire than about the teacher. People were afraid. They asked questions like, “Who caused the fire? Why did it take so long for the fire department to show up? Why did the house go down so quickly? Is it shady a construction job?” and more.

That’s the moment you realize something…..fear sells.

So, you start to find the people in the community to talk about the things that entice fear. The problem is there aren’t enough people in your little town to fill up a 24/7 news cycle. So you go to the town over and the town over from that town. Soon you learn about a killer hornet that was spotted 6 towns over and you do a special on how the killer hornet is coming to your town. You get experts and you edit their interviews to get this story going, and man it works!

Your little news story becomes the talk of the town. Everyone is worried about the killer hornets and you want to build on this momentum. You bring on new experts to talk about it. You gotta leave out the ones that bring levity into the conversations because….we all know it’s only fear that sells.

Things are going great. Then, another news agency starts up. They had good intentions at first but slowly morph into producing news stories that are exact counters to your stories so that people begin to fear and distrust your motives as a news agency. They want people to tune-out of your channel and tune-into theirs.

Here’s an example, you did a great piece on the librarian and how she is trying to bring books into a forgotten demographic. This competing news agency ran a piece with the headline, “What do we really know about this librarian? Stay tuned- we did some digging.”

Back and forth, back and forth. Your two competing news agencies are jockeying everyday for more viewership. This back and forth ended up dividing the town. Fear was selling news…but killing the community and ultimately the humanity of the town. There were no more individuals. It was News Team “A” people vs. News Team “B” people. And fear just continued to drive a wedge between the two.

Now what?

Back to reality.

I have been conducting and experiment lately. I’ve been listening and watching news stories in the 24/7 news world through the lens of all the major news outlets. It’s remarkable at how different each group tells the same story…..but, time after time….when I do my own independent research, it’s never as bad as either “side” claims it is.

FEAR SELLS. The voice that is the most radical and apocalyptic will always come to the top.

Jesus followers have a duty to cut through this crap. This is not how it’s supposed to be. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:17–18

You see, fear often removes the humanity of the person you disagree with. How can you see the individual as a person made in the image of God when that person has been condensed to sound bites and those sound bites sound like a threat to your way of life. Again, fear often removes the humanity of the person you disagree with. Don’t let it. Fear concerns itself with behavior. Love changes a person’s inner-being. That’s where God lives.

I promise you. The news you are watching (FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ETC…) is not selling you humanity or love. They are peddling you fear and it’s dividing families and friends and ultimately killing our communities.

Here is my challenge for you -TURN OFF THE NEWS. Don’t concern yourself with the people on the tv you have little influence in…..go meet people that disagree with you in your community. Have love based conversations.

As peacemakers (aka Jesus followers) we should stop striving to always be understood and start striving to understand. That’s where love is. That’s where God is. That’s bringing humanity back to it’s most powerful form.

You want the world to change. What are you doing to change it? To paraphrase from another pastor, How are your neighbors (the people actually in your world) who disagree with you or maybe don’t look like…actually experiencing you?

Are you not friends with anyone that disagrees with you or looks different than you? Well, then I’d say their experience with you might be pretty crappy.

The only thing that counts….is our faith, expressing itself in love.

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