When I started studying Mark’s Gospel many years ago, I learned that, in Mark, faith is not contrasted with unbelief, but with fear.
The command to “not be afraid” was common in Mark. The disciples are constantly choosing between faith and fear as they journey with Jesus. It is fear, not unbelief, that cripples the community of Jesus-followers.
I don’t believe Christianity is a mind-game where we force ourselves to think happy thoughts. Far from it, I believe Christianity allows- even insists on- a full embrace of the difficulties, obstacles and deadly realities of life.
What does concern me, however, is the response of disciples to the media universe we live in, a media universe that uses fear in ways that are crippling to the mission of Jesus and detrimental to the work of the Holy Spirit.
1. I am concerned that many Christians do not understand the media’s financial stake in creating an atmosphere of crisis about as many stories as possible. They will do anything to keep you watching and reading.
2. I am concerned that many Christians do not understand the manipulation that a diet of fear-mongering makes possible. The media seeks influence and audience. A constant crisis creates that atmosphere.
3. Without in any way taking a skeptical attitude toward science, I have to wonder how many Christians realize media science reporting on many of the popular television and internet venues is exaggerated and quite “unscientific?” Loch Ness this hour, asteroids the next, swine flu at 6, followed by a special on alien DNA.
4. I am concerned that the multiplication of “fear factors” has powerful impact on some Christians, to the point of challenging fundamental aspects of how we as Christians face the painful, unpredictable and evil aspects of existence.
Am I alone in this? Is anyone else feeling that the thermostat of corporate fear is being turned up by media and its echo chamber for all the usual reasons- profit, influence, audience addiction, government empowerment- and many Christians are becoming the victims of an atmosphere not unlike what we saw at Y2K?
Anyone else see Christians becoming easy fodder for this, and failing to relate what they hear to the sovereignty of God, a moderate skepticism of media and the truths of the faith we live by in scripture?
When I heard a guy making motions about the Mayan calendar and 2012 at this year’s SBC, I thought….we’re over a line here. Now I’m seeing many more evidences of the same thing and its getting worse. Those of us who don’t have televisions are at risk for being “unbelievers.”
Is it just me?
I have often struggled with these perceptions myself, but I have never been able to organise my thoughts and misgivings as coherently as the Monk has done here. I’m honoured to be able to pass his thoughts on!