In an age and society where the Christian voice appears less well regarded, laughed at, likened to a bygone era of fantasy and superstition, how do we achieve cut-through to defend and advocate for the issues important to our heart?
If you ever read people’s comments on internet forums or even listen to talk-back calls, you might wonder what kind of a world do we currently inhabit – a world of intolerance and anger; a reductionist slogan-driven society which feeds division and judgement.
Our world is complex, as has been particularly evident over the past year – atrocities committed by Boko Haram and IS; hundreds of Pakistani school children slaughtered; journalists and police killed in the name of religion in France; asylum seekers to Australia taking extreme measures to draw attention to their plight; two shocking incidents relating to Malaysian Airlines flights; the politicisation of climate change; the Australian government’s decision to slash foreign aid; the ongoing conflict over Gaza; Russia’s annexation of Crimea and push into Ukraine; the global impact of the crash in oil price…the list goes on.
As individuals, how do we process such complex issues? I suspect not well.
As we are inundated with more and more ‘bad’ news, our natural instinct is self-preservation. You and I cannot stop Boko Haram any more than we can solve the multi-dimensional issues which swirl around climate change.
One way to ‘control’ what seems so big and out of control is to shut out the deluge of news. However, in a 24/7 information (and misinformation) saturated, never-switched-off world in which we live, it is difficult to escape.
If we cannot shut it out, another way to ‘control’ becomes to pigeon hole, to simplify, to create our own ‘bad guy’ (which, when you think about it, is what folk tales, fairy tales and morality stories did in previous generations).
It is easier to demonise than to grapple with complexity. How as Christians do we recognise and speak into the complexity? How do we try not to fall into the trap of landing on the simplistic, the black and white, the polarising?
And yet, look a little further and there are increasing opportunities for debate, in-depth commentary and even reflection. Join a group that advocates for issues you believe in. Read blogs or magazines that seek to drill below the surface and provide nuance and context. Seek out people who want to seriously engage with the big issues. You don’t need to be alone.
God is bigger than all of the scary events that are unfolding in the world. Find the still waters that restore your soul, so that you can confidently walk through the dark valley fearing no evil (Psalm 23).