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Summary: Christmas Realities - Part 2. This Christmas we need to check the reliability of our message because the reality is that there is a lot of fluff out there.


Christmas Realities – Part 2

December 4, 2005

Mark 1:1-8


Where do you get your news? Network news? 24-hour cable news channel? Newspaper? Internet? Today there are more options than ever before in history for getting your news. In the old days the news was delivered to your doorstep, but today it is delivered to your desktop. In the old days you could watch the news only at 5 or 10 and if you missed it you missed it. However, with the advent of the 24-hour cable news channels you can watch it whenever you want.

Not only do we have more news available at more times and through more mediums, but we can also choose what style of news we will get. By this I mean that we can choose what political slant we want to listen to because some mediums clearly lean to the left while others clearly lean to the right. So by choosing who you will listen to or watch you can make sure that you always here the take on the news that you want to hear.

While there are many positive things about the expanded availability of the news there are also some problems as well. One of the problems is that people are being spoiled. They have gotten used to getting their news where they want it, when they want it and how they want it. The apostle Paul prophesied of the day when this same attitude would infiltrate the church:

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

One of the Christmas Realities that we must face this holiday season is whether or not our message is any different. Are we becoming a people who will only listen to what we want to hear? Are we becoming a church that tailors its message to what the world wants to hear? Do we sidestep controversial scriptures? Do we soft pedal doctrine and theology?

Another interesting news service development is not just the variety of news services, but also the rise of fake news programs. I’m talking about programs like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart whose motto is: “When the news breaks, we fix it.” Or The Onion, which poses as an online newspaper and features headlines like: “Special Olympics Investigated for Performance-Enhancing Hugs.” These and other fake news services do offer a sense of the news, but with a heavy does of comedy. The purpose of such programs really isn’t to inform, but to entertain.

Now in and of itself there is nothing wrong with programs like that. In fact one could argue that with all of the tragedy we see in the world around us we need to learn to laugh a little or else we might just go a little loony. The problem is that instead of supplementing their traditional news with a little humor many are turning off the regular news altogether in favor of these fake news alternatives. There has been a steady decline in the viewership of network news, but there has been a steady increase in the viewership of these fake news alternatives. Today in America there is truly no news like fake news.

However, in today’s text we are introduced to John the Baptist who served as God’s anchorman broadcasting the good news of the coming Messiah. John was an old-school, hard-news guy who told it like was. However with the popularity of today’s fake news programs I wonder if that is the way we really want it.

I want to read to you today’s passage and then I would like to point out a few things of significance about John’s news broadcast.

1The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, 2as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way” –

3“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

make straight paths for him.’ ”

4And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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