I developed a bad habit during the pandemic. I would grab my phone first thing every morning, scan the headlines, and read articles that portrayed the world through a secular, chaotic lens. This practice brought my spirits down and skewed my view of God’s world. It was a depressing practice that led to a pessimistic overtone of my interaction with the world, my family, and the church.
I don’t mean that the world is rosy. I don’t mean that I think that things are really great in the world, but the news painted a wrong picture. The world is chaotic. The world is crazy. The world is sinful. The world is reeling. This is the constant reality of a world in rebellion against God.
Yet, there is more, much more, to the picture than chaos. God stands at the helm of history, directing everything according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He is uniting all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Jesus is bringing grace for us when He is revealed (1 Peter 1:13). This world will experience the wrath of God, but God has not destined believers for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
All of these things are true no matter my perspective. God has revealed these things in His Word. While I knew these truths on paper, I allowed myself to forget them. Instead of starting with God’s view of the world as my foundation, I was starting with the world’s perspective of itself. This led to hopelessness instead of confidence.
Yet, God is the God of hope who gives us joy and peace as we place our faith in Him (Romans 15:13). Faith is dependence. Christian faith is dependence upon God. Faith is trusting God’s promises as revealed in His Word. Thus faith comes from hearing the Word about Christ (Romans 10:17). Our faith cannot be strengthened through the newspaper, television news commentators, or blog posts. Instead, faith is strengthened as we are exposed to the Word of God.
This is why I started a new habit by God’s grace. I start each morning telling myself, “Word before the world.” Before I pick up my phone or iPad to check the news, I take my Bible and consistently work through a passage or topic in Scripture (please see the note below). I am also trying to further develop the habit of praying through the Bible passage that I am reading for myself, my family, and my church family. I also journal what I have learned to help solidify my understanding of the text and develop my application of the Word by faith.
I have found this practice to be a game changer in my interaction with the world. When I open my phone and read the news, I still see the same crazy things. I read about COVID regulations, sometimes questionable data updates, headlines about a governor’s sin harming others, and see photos of all the protests and riots around the world. The news hasn’t changed, and the sin nature of man is still intact. What has changed is my perspective and place of dependence. Rather than trusting in the world to give me perspective about itself, I am resting in the promises of God. Truly, He is working all things for the good of His people to make us more like Jesus. This includes pandemics, political scandal, moral failure in leaders, and everything else (Romans 8:28-29). Jesus is definitely coming again, and He will make all things new, someday (Revelation 19-21). He may even come for the church, today!
When I interact with the world understanding God’s love for me, confident that He has a plan for all this mess, fear no longer has a hold on me. Instead, there is calm and expectancy.
NOTE: I am not anti-phone, anti-tablet, or anti-technology. I am just too easily distracted to use my phone or tablet for my personal Bible study in the mornings. If I have my phone or tablet in hand, my attention will wander, time will be wasted, and I will not finish with my “quiet time.” If you can use your technology in a productive manner in your Bible study and prayer, then please feel free to do so. My main point in this post is to say: Interact with the world armed with the Word.
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