Christians Should Pray to God Simply Because He Is Our Father, Not Because We Need Something
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- 2021 Nov 19
The Beaver Moon lunar eclipse that occurred early this morning lasted around 21,693 seconds (six hours and two minutes). I know this because I read it on the Time and Date website, which seems authoritative. However, I did not stay up to time the event and can offer no independent confirmation of this claim.
The same article states that the last time a partial lunar eclipse lasted that long was on February 18, 1440. The next time a partial lunar eclipse will reach the same overall length will be on February 8, 2669. However, since I was not alive for the former and will not be alive for the latter, once again I am forced to take these assertions by faith.
Upon reflection, it seems to me that nearly everything we read in the news must be approached in the same way. We can only be in one place at a time, and thus we can witness personally only the tiniest sliver of all that happens in our universe on a given day. Even when televised news covers a distant event, the fact that we are watching that particular televised event means we are not watching any others at the same time.
And even when we witness an occurrence first-hand, we often require the help of those who are more expert on the subject to understand it more fully. I can know that I’m running a fever, but I need a doctor to tell me why.
"When All the Media Narratives Collapse"
I say all of that to make this point: if we cannot depend on the objectivity of those whose reporting and opinions we require, our ability to engage with the world is severely affected.
And that is where we are today.
Andrew Sullivan is a British-American writer, editor, and blogger. He has written for The New Republic, TIME, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, New York, and other publications. He is openly gay, married to a man, and a practicing Catholic. He describes himself as a political conservative, though his positions on a variety of social issues have provoked opposition from many conservatives.
Whatever our views on his views, I found his recent newsletter to be profoundly important and disturbing. Titled, “When All the Media Narratives Collapse,” it lists example after example of ways the mainstream media (MSM) have gotten significant recent stories wrong in significant and often indefensible ways.
For example, he links to a New York Times (NYT) article published the morning after the killings for which Kyle Rittenhouse has been on trial this week. Neither the article nor subsequent reporting by the NYT included the possibility that Rittenhouse may have shot assailants in self-defense. Thus, when one of his pursuers admitted on the witness stand that Rittenhouse shot him only after the man pointed his gun directly at Rittenhouse’s head a few feet away, people were shocked.
According to Sullivan, the NYT‘s coverage and videos of the event omitted key elements that only came to light during the trial this week. He cites other examples regarding the Steele Dossier, the Covington boys, Russian bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, the lab-leak Covid theory, Jussie Smollett’s claims, a gang assault at UVA, white supremacists targeting Asian-Americans, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the escalation in inflation, the seasonality of the migrant border surge, and claims that Critical Race Theory is not being taught in high schools at all. He links to relevant stories in the MSM and shows that each has been proven highly inaccurate.
Sullivan concludes: “I still rely on the MSM for so much. I still read the NYT first thing in the morning. I don’t want to feel as if everything I read is basically tilted toward wish-fulfillment, narrative-proving, and ideology. But with this kind of record, how can I not?” (his emphasis).
"The truth will set you free"
My purpose today is not to lambast the media for its bias, whether on the right or the left. (In an earlier article, I explained this bias in some detail.) Nor is it to paint all journalists with the same brush. Some, like this reporter in Dallas whose article on our website was insightful and compelling, are working sacrificially to tell the truth as objectively and professionally as possible.
Rather, it is to note that in a post-truth culture, truth claims are likely to be a means to the ends of personal and professional agendas. Including yours and mine.
This is why knowing God and then making him known is so urgent. Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He promises that if we would “abide” in his word, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
He prayed for his followers that his Father would “sanctify them in the truth” and added, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). His Spirit will “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). His word is “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105).
However, as we noted yesterday, you and I are tempted to make people a means to our ends, an object to our subject. We are just as tempted to do this with God.
How to get along with God
Transactional religion, from the Greco-Roman world to today, treats God’s word and power as instruments to be used for our purposes. We pray so God will meet our needs. We worship on Sunday so God will bless us on Monday. We read the Bible so its insights will help us succeed in life.
We need to measure the news and everything else we experience in this fallen world through the prism of God’s unchanging, authoritative, completely true word. We need to read, pray, and worship for God’s glory rather than our own, to live for his honor above our own, to commune with our Creator for no reason except to be with our Father, to love our Lord and our neighbor for their sakes rather than ours.
Anything less makes the King of the universe a means to our end. This is idolatry, and it is dangerous. As a wise friend once told me, “If you want to get along with God, stay off his throne.”
We can denounce the media for its personal biases and the culture for its self-promotional secularism, but we cannot control either. What we can control is the degree to which we submit our biases and self-promotion to our Lord each day in repentance and faith. We can control the degree to which God is our King and not our hobby (1 Timothy 1:17), the depth of our surrendered and grateful submission to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), the passion of our sacrificial love for every person Jesus loves (John 3:16).
Here is a way to know if God is a means to your end or the King of your heart: When last did reading the Bible, praying, or worshiping God change your life? When last did they cause you to do something you did not want to do or stop doing something you did?
Will they today?
Publication date: November 19, 2021
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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