Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Outrage Hunger and a Healthful Emotional Diet

After reading the CT piece on “outrage hunger” last month, I have some expanded thoughts on what types of literature, blogs and memes to which we, as Christians, subject ourselves. 

We ought to bring into serious question what our “emotional diet” contains.

Outrage is the obvious and best current example. According to the CT article, Christians in this country (but they’re not alone in this habit) peruse cyberspace to find links of articles, editorials and memes (that vary extremely in accuracy and logic) that will enrage them, usually regarding a socio-political issue. Usually, the conversation that ensues from the reactive post (or “re-post”) on social media is less than Christ-like, to put it mildly.

Beyond outrage, there are works and kitsch out there that can make us disturbed and fearful enough to never let our kids outside the house. Some fluff can put us on a temporary and false euphoria. Other works will challenge belief in God. 

There’s a variety of consumable works out there, so I encourage that one strives for a balanced diet. Just like an individual prone to heartburn, try to foresee the for-sure consequences of what you consume, and be wise and practical about when (or even if) you should partake. 

I’ve had to strive for this balance, too. When I’ve just had a tiring day, for whatever reason, it isn’t the best time to read, for example, an atheist’s vitriolic editorial. That can wait until tomorrow. When I’m about to drop off my kids to school, it isn’t the best time to read a fear-mongering blog about violence between students. My kids are in God’s omnipotent hands. And I could be wrong, but popular political rants on Facebook aren’t going to do squat to change the minds of the politicians responsible for causing/fixing a political situation, so why bother jumping on the soapbox?

The truth is that certain emotions are just plain exhausting: fear, bitterness, anger, anxiety, unforgiveness, sadness, etc. They’re not how we’re called to live our daily lives, they don’t do anything to solve the situation that usually caused them, and they hinder us from living the life of holiness and service that Christ died and freed us to live.

This world is marked by unspeakable horror, wrongdoing and tragedy. We cannot be in denial or ignorance about that. But, as Christians who believe in the selfless sacrifice, suffering and sovereignty of Jesus, we have something that overpowers all such parasitical emotions: hope. Let’s maintain a healthful intake of truthful, reasonable objective material, meditate on God’s Word, and not react to events in this world as those who have no hope.

Love one another. Pray. Serve. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:4-9