Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8).
I don’t know about you but tuning into the daily news in any format has become extremely painful. Reading social media comments about it makes it even worse. Old folks like me are considered out of touch and inherently racist and loaded with privilege by individuals the age of my children and grandchildren. Go almost anywhere on the internet and you find yourself overrun by the trivial and silly. We’ve become a society of spoiled children, old and young alike, who’d rather spend their time watching pointless videos than actually engaging in serious thought.
You’ve heard the story of the two wolves. Each of us has two wolves living within us. One feeds on positive thoughts, the other on negative thoughts. For most of us, the positive wolf has all but starved to death and we don’t even realize it.
We are constantly bombarded with 24 hours of the most soul-crushing, mind-numbing information possible. The media will tell you it’s because only bad news sells. What they don’t tell you is the objective is to stamp out any hope you may have for what used to be considered ‘normal’, good, and wholesome. People who have no hope become the slaves of those who then control the narrative.
As Christians, we sometimes fall prey to becoming accomplices in this. We pass on all the bad news, sometimes wringing our hands in despair, sometimes manifesting outrage over the level of disrespect and depravity now seen on a daily basis. My question is this: if all we’re doing is simply rebroadcasting the world’s message, regardless of our attached reaction, what are we accomplishing?
Paul, in writing his final thoughts to the church at Philippi, gave them a completely different message. He told them not to focus on the bad news of the world, but to feed the positive wolf. Starve the wolf who lives on stealing hope, fueling hatred, and destroying faith. The church at Philippi were the body of Christ on earth and they needed to reflect that. The way to do so is to think like Jesus. If we’re not of this world, why should we continue to think the same way the world does? Don’t let the world’s message weigh you down; instead, focus your thinking on things that are positive, that build up rather than tear down.
I can already hear the response. It’s too simplistic, it’s turning a blind eye to what’s going on, it’s just denying reality. If you’re a Christian and that’s your reaction, I humbly and respectfully suggest you need to rethink your faith. There’s more happening here than meets the eye. Our ‘reality’ is a small reflection of a bigger spiritual reality.
For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3–5).
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12).
We’re engaged in a war for minds and hearts, and the weapons being used by the media and the world are designed to destroy ours and everyone else’s. Victory does not lie in politics, debates, judicial decisions or anything else in this world. They may occasionally prove to be useful tools but they are not weapons by which we achieve an ultimate victory, winning hearts and minds. They’re weapons that most of the time are wielded much more effectively by our spiritual enemies.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Ro 12:21).
The battle begins in our own minds. The way to conquer the constant barrage of garbage, hate, and sludge being peddled by the world is to refuse to dwell on it. Be aware of it, certainly, but spend most of your time thinking about positive Godly things. We need to be criticially aware of the messages we’re putting before the world. What do they say about who we are? Do they reflect Christ living in us? Or are they a reflection of the influence of the world? If you need some suggestions on where to let your mind dwell, try these:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–25).
Our lives will manifest what occupies our mind. If we’re consumed with anxiety, anger, or anything else the world tries to feed us, it going to show in our day to day lives. On the other hand, spending our time thinking about positive Godly things like the fruit of the Spirit will also show, and speak loudly. That’s the good stuff, and that’s how good overcomes evil.