good vs bad news

by Pastor Mark Jordan

“One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did among you. And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I’m finding that not all “believers” are believers. But the Master never lets us down. He’ll stick by you and protect you from evil.” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3, MSG)

I love the image that we get in today’s Bible passage. Imagine what it looks like when the Master’s Word just takes off and spreads throughout the area. That good news is infectious and people want in on what’s hot, hip, and happening. But bad news seems to travel faster and even seems to be more believable, doesn’t it? One stat says that people are 45% more likely to share bad news than good news. Seems strange, doesn’t it?

This isn’t unique to us in 2018. The Apostle Paul shared some of his dissatisfaction and dismay with how easy it appeared for some — even those he thought were on the same side as he — to share bad news and negative perceptions. It doesn’t always have to be true, but even the truth used in ways to shape and share an agenda can be devastating. As I think back on my own life, a distorted sense of truth can be equally as difficult to counter as an outright lie. It comes down to what we, as people, are willing to believe.

McGill University in Canada did a study to track how people responded to positive versus negative news. They discovered that even the most optimistic people were drawn more to bad news than good. Psychologists think this has a lot to do with our innate survival instinct that keeps us away from danger and helps us to believe that the world, and those in it, are basically good.  It helps us feel safe and gives a sense of security so we can function in the world. Still, nearly everyone has what is known as a negativity bias that causes us to raise our guard to protect us from harm, as well as the things we should deem as too good to be true. As a result, we tend to want to consume bad news as a way to heighten our awareness of the hazards in the world, and to stay away from those who might seek to do us harm.

God doesn’t want you and me to live cynically. He wants us to believe in Him, and live in such a way that shows everyone His light and love. Jesus was wise, however, to instruct His disciples to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” as they embarked upon their missionary journeys, because He was indeed sending them out as “sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). So as you head out today to help make God known to others — and every day for that matter — remember the reminder from Paul: “the Master never lets us down. He’ll stick by you and protect you from evil.” This can help you no matter where you go today, and whomever you might encounter.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for loving me, and seeing me with the potential I have when I live solely for you. Forgive me the times I cynically look at others through my negativity bias. Help me to continue my ministry for you, comforted and confirmed in the fact that you will never let me down, because you stick with me and protect me from evil. I pray this in the helping name of Jesus. Amen.

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