Christians, stop worrying about the news

A great many Christians today are needlessly torturing themselves by worrying about social and political developments that are not worth worrying about. Stop it.

Jesus Christ is the unassailable King of the World. Presidents and prime ministers rise and fall, but Jesus remains King over all. Just before he ascended into heaven he announced:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Matthew 28:18

All authority”, not “Some authority”. “On earth,” not “In the church only.” “Has been given,” not “Will be given.

Jesus now sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father, glorified in power, wielding his scepter over the great and the small. Nothing on earth—not the rising and falling of world leaders, not the falling of bombs, not the falling of a sparrow, not the falling of a hair from your head—happens apart from Christ’s ruling will. (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3–4, 8; 1 Peter 3:22; Matthew 10:29–31; Revelation 2:27)

Therefore, those of us who claim to worship Christ should take heart, remain calm, and place love above all debate and vying, because we have full confidence that the authority of the One who chose to die for us is the only authority that matters. If he is for us, who can be against us? Our bodies may be broken, our jobs lost, and our bank accounts ruined. But no one can snatch us from his hand. His love for us is the only asset worth clinging to.

The apostle Paul, like Jesus, was falsely accused, arrested, imprisoned, abused, tried, and convicted by the governing authorities of his time, authorities who were not a “jury of his peers”, not democratically elected, had no regard for “human rights,” but were infamous tyrants and demagogues. Nevertheless he tells us:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:1–3

Obviously Paul has listened to what Christ said when he claimed to have all authority on earth. If Christ has all authority, then all human authority is owned by Christ and granted and withdrawn as he wishes. This means that every current politician is elected to power, sustained in power, and cut off from power at the whim of King Jesus, precisely in the ways and times that he ordains. If Paul was able to meekly submit to evil, vicious, entitled, fools (Acts 23:4–5, 26:2–3), we can and must submit to our own governing authorities. It is easier for us than for him, and if we fail in this we have no excuse. We must speak softly and kindly to and of our governing authorities, with meekness, humility, and love, turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, praying for them daily, and so obeying the most elementary principles of our Christian faith.

What have we got to lose? If the One who chose us by name to be cleansed eternally by his own blood of sacrifice is the One who is really in charge, then the news can hold no fear for us. We are secure, not perhaps in all the ways we might wish, but in all the ways that matter.

Your worry and gossip over political and social events, whether in the news, on Facebook, or anywhere else, is an act of defiance against the clear teaching of Scripture and the commands of Christ.

Worry is also waste: idolatrous, self-destructive waste. It happens when you fear a future over which you have no real control. Almost nothing on the news is of any direct relevance to your life or choices. Most of what is talked about in the news is speculation and will never happen. Most of what will happen will have little or no direct effect on us or our families. Most of what does affect us is completely out of our control. Therefore to worry about what we see in the news is pure waste. It is a nasty, self-indulgent, self-torturing thrill that manifests our addiction to fear and grumbling and our lack of faith in the King. There is no worship of the true King in veneration of the false gods of worldly power.

Worry not only gropes for control where no control is possible but distracts us from the responsibility God has actually placed before us. We are the children of God. We know what the world does not: that salvation is through Christ alone. We alone enjoy the rich blessings of God: relative health, relative wealth, comfort, guidance, peace with the King and through him with all men. While we possess knowledge and blessing, we are surrounded by lost and hurting people. Is our responsibility not clear? We must give out of our wealth of knowledge and blessing to shine light into the dark places.

Why then do we poison our relationships and waste our passion by fretting about world events that we can do nothing about while neglecting the needs of neighbors that we must do something about?

As citizens of a democratic nation, the control each of us has over the political scene consists of one very small, very occasional vote. That is a tiny quantum of control. It represents the full extent of our political responsibility: no more and no less than one vote every year or two. We ought indeed to be responsible with it. We ought to research local candidates and make informed, thoughtful choices. Instead, most of us agonize over national politics but go to the polls completely ignorant of the local candidates we have some power to actually elect. If you must read about politics, read only what is necessary to enable you to make responsible choices with your vote. Then your investment in politics will match your responsibility. Anything else is vain, contradictory, and self-defeating.

Christians sometimes seek political office. There is no biblical prohibition against this, and in those cases their political thinking, reading, and involvement will properly exceed that of an ordinary citizen.

There are moments when news items have at least general relevance to our responsibilities; therefore a basic literacy around the major events of our society is worth maintaining. These major events—those that are real (as opposed to fake or speculated), lasting (as opposed to momentary), and significant to our own local responsibilities (as opposed to being abstracted beyond our direct control or choices)—occur perhaps once or twice a year at most. The beginning of the COVID pandemic called for some study of the news, because everyone had a duty to understand what was happening and to change our behavior and plans. I am not calling for total ignorance of the news, therefore, but for the discipline to limit the attention we give it to an amount suitable to its direct, concrete effect on our own responsibilities.

Jesus said:

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:33–34

Christians today worry about politics because we are indifferent to God’s kingdom and righteousness. If we loved his kingdom and righteousness more than we love the threats and thrills of the world, we would not worry. If you are tempted to worry, remember instead that the God’s kingdom and his righteousness—the righteousness that God both provides and demands—rather than the political scene or our own skin are our only proper concerns. Today, in our own hearts, families, neighborhoods, and workplaces we have God-given responsibilities that we must attend. The news offers no help with these acts of obedience and love. These “troubles of today,” the troubles of serving here and now, are sufficient to keep us busy and successful. They are placed into our hands by God. He promises fruitfulness, not futility, in them. You have every reason to focus entirely on the good works God has appointed you to do.

If you are addicted to the habit of watching, reading about, talking about, or worrying about the news, you must stop today. Don’t watch or read the news. Replace those habitual thoughts with better ones.

What should we fill our minds with? Paul answers:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Why embroil yourself in fear and anger around events over which you have no control, when God has made the world beautiful and rich if only we’ll turn our eyes to see what he is providing?

A practical tip. If someone tries to involve you in ranting or arguing about the news, simply reply, “I trust my King Jesus to take care of me, to show me what to do, and to make all things come out for his glory in the end. Now, what can I do to serve you?

In summary:

  • Jesus is King.
  • Stop watching the news.
  • Focus on your own responsibilities, not the headlines you have no responsibility for or control over.
  • If you want to engage in politics, engage in learning about your local candidates specifically when you prepare to vote.
  • Don’t worry about the world: act with love toward your neighbor.
  • Fill your mind with the beautiful and bright things of God, not worries, conspiracy theories, or national gossip.