One of the most difficult challenges we face these days is how to consume the news. We want to know what is happening in the world, but figuring out how much time to spend on it, where to spend that time, and how to spend that time without being constantly angry is a difficulty that few believers or non-believers have a handle on.
For many, the challenges and frustrations come from a fear of not having enough knowledge about what is happening in the world. If we feel like we have been ‘gaslit’ or because of ignorance we missed an opportunity to fight for what is right, what will happen to us?
The leaders of the early church found that fear of not having the 'right knowledge' prompted many of their followers to look for other gospels (Gal 1:6; 2 Cor 11:4). The Gospel of Jesus seemed too simple to many. “Repent and you are saved? Too simple. What if we miss something? Like another holy writing with important instructions. Or a new way to interpret the godhood and human nature of Christ. What will happen to us if we miss it?”
The early Christian heresies were ready to seize on these fears (Jude 1:4; Gal 2:4). They offered alternative gospels, syncretistic philosophies, and the ‘secret knowledge’ that people craved to feel safe from the world and unknown spiritual forces. “If you have all the extra stuff,” they would say, “then you can be secure that you have not missed anything” (Gal 1:7).
The early church pushed back hard against these heresies, knowing that additional scriptures and the dilution of the simplicity of the Gospel would erode one of the most necessary ingredients of salvation: humility (Tit 1:13-14; Gal 1:8-9). As the heretics offered ‘deeper truths’ and ‘clear pathways’ to salvation, they were encouraging people that they were capable of justifying themselves, if they knew the right truth. They were simultaneously undercutting the Gospel message of humbling ourselves and letting Christ take care of our justification (2 Pet 2:1).
While we no longer battle heresies in the same way, the temptations are still being offered to us, often by the media (1 Tim 4:1-2; 1 John 4:1). As the currency of the day shifts to clicks and views, more and more blogs, news channels, forums, and media personalities seem excited to offer us the ‘secret knowledge’ that will help us to navigate this world, to feel more in control, and where we can find our security (2 Tim 4:3; 1 John 2:15).
Our frustration about what is happening in the world and the choices that others are making fuels more clicks and views and often leaves us with nothing but stress and anger (Rom 6:16, 16:18).
The answer for those in the Early Church was to block out the noise and voices of the day and to follow the Spirit of God (Tit 3:9-11; Acts 2:42. Early Christians put their trust in the leaders they watched live out their faith and ignored the ones who claimed to have all the answers but knew nothing about them as individuals (Rom 6:17; 2 Thes 2:15).
To get out of the cycle of stress and frustration, we must also look to the spiritual leaders in our lives (1 Cor 4:17, 11:1; Phil 4:9). The simple truths of a mentor are worth more than all the secret knowledge offered by those claiming to have insider knowledge of what is happening in the world (Prov 27:5-6; Gal 1:10; 1 Thes 2:4-6). And if we follow that same path, we will discover the reward that those early Christians experienced: life change and transformation, which is something the people of this world will never be able to offer (2 Tim 1:13-14; Rom 12:2).