Uninformed in the information world
This is a test.
Can you identify the following people?
No? You may be uninformed.
Being in the world but not of the world puts believers in a unique cultural position. My light is supposed to shine right out there in the darkness and engage this fallen world at every point. Yet, many of us are so disconnected from the world he sent us to change our influence barely registers on most cultural scales. In some ways it's because so many of us are uninformed about life around us. And, that's a shame. We're living in the information age. There's really no excuse when so much information is a click away.
Let's not be snobs about what we know, the trivia we've stored away, or our absorption of current events. The list of names above were pulled on me at lunch the other day to check whether I practiced what I preached. I knew them all but the last one, Andrew Lincoln. I never got into The Walking Dead phenom and so he wasn't familiar to me at all. But, one day in a sermon I mentioned the zombie thing and discovered that just about everybody in church that day knew the entire Walking Dead cast in alphabetical order. I was the one out of the loop that day.
BTW, the names above are a random example of names in the news these days. Any of us could recite a list of people from our personal preferences and stump just about anyone with them. But, the point is that to reach into this world, we must know something about it. You can know about by being in it, and at least aware of it.
Charlie Hebdo isn't a person but is the French news organization targeted and
attacked by radical jihadists in 2011 and on January 7, 2015, killing twelve
Ashley Madison isn't a person either. It's the Canada based on-line dating and
social networking service seeking to link married or committed individuals for
casual sexual encounters. It's been in the news lately because someone hacked
their list of patrons. Oops.
Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer on August 14, 2014, in
Jefferson, Missouri. His killing sparked months of protests that rocked the nation.
Harry Reid is the Minority Leader of the United States Senate. A Democrat from
Nevada, Reid is liberal, Mormon, and outspoken.
Andrew Lincoln plays Nick Grimes, the lead character in The Walking Dead.
One Sunday last January I was talking about the Super Bowl. Now, I don't follow professional sports of any kind. It's just a personal bias that I can't defend and won't try. Anyway, I chased a rabbit in the morning message and mentioned the Super Bowl and all the fans that would follow their favorite teams. Then, for the life of me I couldn't name the teams. Uh, ruh, ahem. I almost got hooted off the stage. The point? There were people in church that day who thought I'd just landed from the third rock from the sun. The Super Bowl? This pastor doesn't know who's in the Super Bowl????
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Look what is before your eyes" (2 Corinthians 10:7, ESV). He was reminding them of the need to be alert and aware as they served kingdom purposes. When he traveled to the villages, cities, and provinces he was mindful of local customs, what was going on around the community and in the markets, and of the places where he could encounter them. He was able to be all things to all people so that some could be saved because he was plugged in to what was happening in his world and theirs. That he could converse, debate, reason, and teach people from so many diverse cultural backgrounds in such an active world always amazes me.
Just realizing his versatility and current orientation, I became convicted about being more aware of the heartbeat of our community and congregation. So, one day before I retired I listened to several of my recent sermons. That's a minefield if there ever was one. I noticed in that message phrases like "broken record", "slow boat to china", "peanut gallery", "life is like a box of chocolates", "slow as Christmas" and even used Fonzi as an illustration. Shoot, 75% of the people in the building didn't have a clue what I was talking about. It was old stuff. So, I went out an bought an Urban Dictionary (Andrews McNeal, 2005). Then I discovered that half of that stuff is profane, and it's out of date already anyway. But, being current isn't rocket surgery, to use another one.
So, get to the point. My advise to every spiritual leader is to at least---
(1) Find a news source that can keep you up-to-date all the time. There are
dozens of web sites, news channels, and apps that will even send you
bulletins as the news breaks by the moment everyday. Check these out in the
morning and through the day if possible.
(2) Watch some recent television. OK, TV is a wasteland. But, at least be aware
of what's happening in the networks and on the cable channels. When all I
watch is Mayberry and Bonanza and Golden Girls I'm living in another
(3) Explore the world of social media. Yes, of course, this stuff can be addictive.
But, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn are ways to stay
connected to the current world.
(4) Be strategic and choose several good blogs to read regularly. Of course,
finishperiod.com is a good start. But, there are hundreds of great articles
and information posted daily about what is happening out there now.
(5) Read, read, read. In addition to the classics, great theology, history, and other
personal preferences, there are volumes of current events, politics, culture,
and church topics that will inform.
A friend told me about a conversation with a man over lunch. He asked the man, "What were your impressions of Mother Emanuel?" The man replied, "Well, I've not actually met her, but they say she was a fine person, and i hope she gets the recognition she deserves." Out of touch, wouldn't you say?
Simon Peter wrote, "Be sober-minded; be watchful." (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). Jesus expected his followers to be ready. That involves being informed.
In the world but not of it.