Matthew Henry, famous for his Bible Commentary, and significant for his Guide for Prayer (a lesser known, but more significant achievement in my opinion) is no relative of mine, but an inspiration to my faith nonetheless.
He wrote once that in reading the local news, we are to avoid reading with a heart that craves gossip, or relishes in the misfortune of others. Rather, we should read about the news with a heart and mind to discern what God is doing in our world.
Sometimes this is called employing a “Christian world view.” Harry Blamires called it discovering, and using, a Christian mind.
Here are two stories from today’s newspaper–yes, the paper and ink variety which I think is still a useful and important part of being an educated and informed human being, and Christian–with some observations, brief, and ad hoc, about what these stories suggest God is doing in our world today.
Cleveland Faulted on Force (A1): “The Obama administration issued a report on Thursday accusing the Cleveland Police Dept. of using excessive and deadly force against citizens in violation of their constitutional rights.” Three observations. 1. Your True Rights. People who love the constitution should remember that in the sight of God, the Creator, we deserve, and have, no rights whatsoever. We are beggars, sinners in the hands of an Angry God (to quote the old Puritan). For example, we don’t have the “right” to be an American. We don’t have the “right” to our freedom. We don’t have the “right” of free speech. We don’t have the “right” to family. These are gifts from God, who is the “giver of every good and perfect gift.” If this is so, then rationalizing unlawful behavior (by God’s definition) in light of presumed “human” rights is a great crime. 2. Simplistic Equations. Simplistic equations that link the violence and sense of (or actual) injustice in Ferguson or other places to that experienced by oppressed black slaves of the nineteenth century dishonor the heroic fortitude and horrifying suffering that those great Men and Women endured, suffering detailed in such tales as Twelve Years a Slave and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 3. The Fear of God. Cops who don’t fear God are a menace to society, and while I don’t know the mindset or religious faith of Officer Wilson (Ferguson, MO), Officer Pantaleo (Staten Island, NY), or Officer Combs (Orangeburg, SC), I can make this generalization: citizen enforcers of law, law enacted by none other than the citizens themselves, must be men who fear God and keep His Commandments. Too many policemen today, I must say, qualify for the rebuke issued by the Psalmist, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Cops, wake up. Come back to church. Sit in the pew. Listen to God’s Word. Submit to the Lord. Follow His Word. Pray with your kids. Love your wives. Repent of your sin.
US Birthrate reaches another record low (A14). “American women gave birth to 3,932,181 babies in 2013 as the nation’s birthrate fell to another record low…” One of the principal purposes of marriage, if not the principal purpose, is the getting of a godly seed (God-fearing, God-honoring, God-loving children)–see the book of Malachi. Our society’s obsession with self, and sex, swaps out God’s main plan for cheap substitutes: plans of our own devising, which travel under any number of convincing disguises. Check and see if you’ve fallen prey to any of these: 1) children are a burden (“wait to have kids because once you do, you’ll be anchored down for the rest of your life. Travel, see the world, have some fun.”); or 2) children are too expensive (“you need to work hard to pay of your (and her) school loans first, in order to be able to afford children, because they are very expensive”; or “with college costs these days, we can really only afford to have one or two kids”); or, 3) I’m more important than children (“we want to get to know one another without the burden of children being around”; or I really wouldn’t make a good mom anyway.”) In response to all these excuses, which, each in their own way, usually amount to some form idolatry, God says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
(Note: citations and quotations are from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday December 5, 2014 edition)