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Ask the Editor: Why so much heavy news?

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WORLD Radio - Ask the Editor: Why so much heavy news?

Considering what it means to report on what God is doing in the world


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NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: Ask the Editor for April. Here’s WORLD Radio Executive Producer Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Last July we started a new initiative at WORLD.

SOUND: [OPEN FROM RECENT SIFTCAST]

The Sift is our three-minute newscast updated six times throughout the day. Moody Radio, Faith Radio, and a handful of independent stations currently carry it.

A couple weeks ago, one of our radio partners sent me this inquiry after a focus group discussion with some of their listeners. He writes:

Paul,

[We] appreciate the news from a Christian Worldview but are left with the heavy burden of what’s happening. Is it possible to end The Sift with a story of how God is working?

Signed Ben.

Reading between the lines, it seems that what these listeners are longing for is more good news in our coverage. In each Sift we cover five headline stories. And to be honest, much of that news, in fact I might even say most of that news, is as these listeners say: “heavy.” I want you to remember that word, we’re going to come back to it.

But first, back to the question at hand: is it possible to select one in five stories that highlights how God is working? I’m going to begin by challenging the implied premise. It sounds like the question equates “God at work” with “good news” stories—or at least “less heavy” stories. But what does “God at work” actually mean?

A few examples: God is obviously at work as a faithful missionary team completes a 20+ year project of Bible translation for a people who didn’t previously have it. We’d probably agree that God is at work when hundreds come forward at an evangelistic rally. But what about when a Christian leader is caught in a web of lies? Is God at work then? I would argue the same: yes He is. And then what about the rest of the news?

Here at WORLD, the sovereignty of God is at the core of our philosophy of journalism. We believe by faith that God is at work in every situation, every story, not just the good news ones. Even though we don’t often see it, God is at work through corrupt partisan politicians, fires and bad weather, and even bank failures and geo-political conflicts on the international stage. And if that’s the case, then every story we cover is already about events where God is at work.

Here’s how our WORLD handbook describes it:

Some Christian publications emphasize happy news, but to be Biblically objective Christian reporters we need to cover sorrow, tragedy, and even evil.

When I replied to Ben, he listened with an open heart. His reply made me smile. He simply suggested that perhaps we could communicate how God is working in every story.

Ah, there’s the rub isn’t it? Because we frequently just don’t know.

On this Good Friday, Christians around the world remember the darkest hours in human history. The one who spoke everything into being…was tried by sinful man, mocked, beaten, tortured, and killed in the most painful way imaginable. It looked as though the light of the world had been snuffed out. If we had been covering that event at the time, it would have been difficult to do so “positively.” In fact, if those who’d been with Jesus for three years couldn’t see what was going on. I’m certain we wouldn’t have been able to comprehend how God was at work either. Talk about heavy news.

But then—after the resurrection—it all began to make sense. The disciples remembered what Jesus had said. They realized that what Satan intended for evil, God had ordained from before the creation of the world for good. For His glory.

The Hebrew word for Glory is literally the weightiness or heaviness of God. God’s splendor, holiness, majesty—revealed as light—is described as being heavy.

So for the first disciples, the glorious heaviness of Christ’s resurrection replaced the hopeless heaviness of His crucifixion.

The gospel is a sensational story. Biblical journalism is Christ-oriented, covering both crucifixion and resurrection. As Ben points out we probably should do a better job making sure we’re covering the news of resurrection in our world—stories the secular media aren’t looking for and don’t cover. But until Christ returns, we must also continue to cover these difficult stories…for when all things are made new, even they will ultimately end up making God’s glory heavier and heavier, because He’s at work in them.

I’m Paul Butler.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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