Sitting in ABC Radio icon Paul Harvey’s Chicago office over twenty-years ago, the Tulsa native was killing time with me before heading into his skyscraper studio for the highly rated late-morning broadcast.
“The public is addicted to bad news,” Paul said with a sigh. “Floods and fires, murders and mayhem, misdeeds and malfeasances. One gunshot grabs more headlines than a thousand prayers. You know, a publication devoted entirely to good news some time ago quickly went out of business. That’s because noise makes news!”
The names and situations change, but the news media’s penchant for negativity pretty much remains the same, and largely because of man’s sinful and stubborn nature. And because mankind gives them plenty of material.
Yet it’s not like this is some new phenomena.
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit,” lamented Stephen, pointing out that the nation of Israel had turned their backs on God. “As your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51).
Likewise, the Lord told Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:13)
Look at almost any news site today and you’ll see evidence of a similar disregard for God’s laws and the Holy Spirit.
For example, social engineers have been twisting themselves into pretzels attempting to expand gender to include anything and everything. It’s all complete foolish talk. Scripture settles the argument.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).
God’s glorious gift of marriage is regularly corrupted by infidelity and by those torturing its very definition as a sacred union of one male and one female. Just consider how much grief and heartache have been spawned by those who violate marital vows, as well as the very essence of what God intended the institution to be.
Abortion has claimed the lives of over 60 million innocent Americans since 1973, and yet the battle still rages over its legality. God’s position is clear. There is no debate.
“You shall not murder,” we read in Exodus (20:13). Solomon writes in Proverbs, “Here are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
To be “stiff necked” in a spiritual sense is to ignore the clear teachings of Scripture and to instead embrace our own sinful and willful ways. But it goes deeper than mere deliberate obstinance.
“A Christian is not a person who believes in his head the teachings of the Bible,” says pastor John Piper. “Satan believes in his head the teachings of the Bible! A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ.”
The very best news is that while the Lord doesn’t promise us a burden-or-misery free life this side of eternity, we can significantly increase the odds of a better life now by following His sacred wisdom.
“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death,” we read in Proverbs. “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored” (Proverbs 13:15, 18).
Humility demands we consider the state of our own necks as we study God’s Word and navigate our way through the morass of culture. We’re to remain steadfast when it comes to His commands and open and flexible to what He wants to teach us at any given moment.