Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Information Overload

An edited version of my Morning Thought, for BBC Radio Wiltshire
The other day we were talking to some friends of ours about the olden days before wall-to-wall television. Younger listeners may not be able to remember this, but when I was growing up, programmes were not broadcast 24/7. There were gaps in the schedule. In between programmes, a test card was shown, depicting a girl playing noughts and crosses with an evil-looking clown doll. Our children were amazed at this. “You mean kids couldn’t watch Spongebob Squarepants whenever they wanted?”

We live in a time of information overload with facts, figures and stories constantly streaming into our homes. We have our daily newspapers, radio bulletins and 24 hour rolling news on the TV, not to mention the internet. Whatever you interests, you can now get information on tap: celebrity gossip, sports updates, political analysis, world news…the list goes on. It’s certainly good to be informed of what’s going on locally, nationally and internationally. But who can cope with this constant stream of information? It does my head in.

Very often we read and hear of bad news. Reports feature conflict, financial instability and global warming. Now, I’m a minister of the gospel, not a reporter, and this morning I have some good news for you. The very word “gospel” means good news.

Good news must be true. Factual accuracy is the basic criterion of any news story. I am a Christian not because my faith helps me get through life as a kind of crutch. I am a believer because I am convinced that the Christian message is true. God sent his Son Jesus Christ into our world to bring us back to him. Jesus died on the cross for our sin and was raised from the dead. The Bible gives us eyewitness accounts of these great events. Here is the gospel truth.

The best news stories change they way we think about the world. They may even prompt us to take action. Famously Bob Geldof was inspired to campaign against poverty after seeing Michel Buerk’s film on the Ethiopian famine. The Christian gospel is certainly life-changing. This message offers those who believe forgiveness, a fresh start in life and hope for the future. The lives of countless thousands of people have been transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.

Some stories dominate the news agenda for a few days and then are quickly forgotten. But good news has lasting value. In a sense, the gospel of Jesus Christ is old news - around 2,000 years old. But it is still, fresh, relevant and up-to-date. It deals with some of the biggest issues that we could face as human beings: Does life have a purpose? How can we know God? How should we live? How can we face death itself? I believe the Christian message helps to answer such questions. That’s why I think the gospel is good news for everyone.
You can listen again here, about 45 minutes into the show.

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