I live in Victoria where every day Premier Daniel Andrews fronts a media conference to provide a COVID-19 daily update. Andrews informs the public how many cases of COVID-19 there are in Victoria, the daily increase in cases from yesterday, the number of Victorians whose lives have been taken by COVID-19 and the number of tests conducted in the last 24 hours. On occasion these media conferences make even bigger news than usual as the Premier unveils a series of new rules designed to limit movement and therefore limit the spread of COVID-19. This is a serious pandemic and we should take it seriously.
But you should turn off the news because it’s not doing you any good.
I’m not suggesting you avoid all news related to the pandemic; it’s helpful to be aware of the key messages the authorities want us to know. There’s nothing wrong with digesting a few minutes of the news each day but that’s not what’s happening for most people. Many people are watching far too much news about COVID-19. People are following the daily case numbers in their state, keeping up to date with the current restrictions, reading articles speculating on future restrictions, reading about the spread of the disease in other nations, finding articles about the development of a vaccine and commenting on the many ill-informed opinions on social media. Christian, you should turn off the news, here’s why:
It’s making you anxious
The news headlines don’t inspire hope; every day is a new disaster, a bigger catastrophe. If the news media simply reported the facts it would be bad enough but to add to the fear the news media then speculates about what might happen next. No sooner was Melbourne in stage 3 lockdown then media reports started speculating on when regional Victoria might enter stage 3 lockdown or when Melbourne’s restrictions would tighten or when border restrictions would tighten. One newspaper article helpfully speculated that Victoria’s borders could be closed for two years. Scary news headlines don’t help us but they are very helpful to media companies seeking to drive internet traffic and television ratings. Christians do not need to take on anxiety by overdosing on bad news. Virus’ infect our bodies; they need not dominate our minds.
It doesn’t give you any more control
Watching the news doesn’t give you any control over what’s happening. You will not get back to normal life any quicker by viewing every media conference. Jesus once said, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” You and I have no control over the pandemic, the government restrictions or the home schooling. We can only choose how we’ll respond to the circumstances we find ourselves in.
You’re missing the good news.
Are you spending more time consuming the news or consuming God’s news? Many Christians are watching and posting more about COVID than they are about Christ. This should not be. Turn off the news so you have some space in your life to read the good news and to spend time with him.
You’re conforming to the pattern of this world
Paul writes in Romans chapter 12, verse 2:
Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If Christians over-indulge in the news media we shouldn’t be surprised when it starts to shape their thinking. Christians are to be disciples of Christ but many are being discipled by the media instead. Christians are not to conform to the pattern of this world, what does this mean? Does it mean we should reject government restrictions, put our masks in the bin and practice civil disobedience by having large Church gatherings? I don’t think so.
Christians should follow government restrictions; they are designed for the health of the community. Christians should be different from the world by not buying into fear. Jesus’ followers really can live free from fear. We do not need to fear a lack of employment or money. Our God knows all our needs and provides everything we need as we seek first the kingdom of God. Coles may run out of toilet paper but God will not run out of everything we need. God will not run out of strength in your weakness and he will not run out of courage when you are afraid.
You’re forgetting eternity
Do you remember your first day of school? I’m sure I was very nervous but it was over 30 years ago and I forget. It seemed like a bid deal at the time. By the time we’ve spent 10,000 years in eternity the COVID-19 pandemic will be a minor matter. Christians do not need to fear death; we will live eternally with God where there will be no more pain, tears or suffering. Christians need not fear death because Christ defeated death on the cross. Stop putting all your hopes in this fleeting life which is here today and gone tomorrow. Christ has conqueror death and set us free from fear. That’s the news the world needs to hear.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a contributor for Christian Today and a sportswriter.