Not long ago I heard a minister say, from the pulpit on Sunday morning, that recently he had to stop listening to “talk radio.” It was filling him with a hateful spirit.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
He was talking about prayer, and about this Gospel injunction to “pray for those who mistreat you.” He discussed briefly how if you deliberately pray for your enemies, or those you’ve been thinking of as your enemies, your attitude toward them changes a bit. Not that you decide they are either right or harmless. But still there is a change.
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That’s when he mentioned recently discovering his problem with talk radio.
Deliberately praying for some of those he thought of as enemies made him sensitive to the hateful spirit he was infected with by listening to talk radio. So, says he, he has had to stop listening to it.
I certainly agree. Jesus was explicit about the behaviors in his enemies that offended him; he was not shy about such things. But he was not a purveyor of hate. He was attentive to and focused on those who welcomed him and his teaching – that is, he was not energized by and focused on his enemies.
Hatefulness very quickly and easily slides into rage, oppression and violence. And it reeks of self-righteousness.
Do you remember Jim and Tammy Bakker? When I was pastoring in Pasadena I used to get these phone calls. “Pastor, are you watching Jim and Tammy? Well, you need to turn it on. They …”
WHY? Why, I asked myself repeatedly, cannot these good people see that Jim and Tammy are both fraudulent and unhealthful. Not only were they not helpful; they were harmful to the spiritual health of our nation. The point here is not that they were purveyors of hate – I don’t know that they were. The point is the obviousness of their uselessness in helping one develop a healthy spirituality.
So also, and much more obviously, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and a host of others are worse than useless – steeped in psychosis and purveyors of evil. They are damaging the spirits of individuals and of the whole country.
Can I pray for such people? Yes. But I cannot in good conscience listen to them –
except very rarely to determine whether the symptoms are still obvious. So far they are.
Please, my fellow Christians,
Do Not try to justify permitting these evildoers into your homes and minds.
There is no justification for that.
[…] I recommend for your attention this excellent recent comment by bookaholic. Here are some excerpts. This little bit about Jesus: â€œhe was not energized by and focused on his enemiesâ€? is some kind of key. I spent several years in a small town where a favorite topic of conversation was the bad things other people did… At the same time, the atmosphere seemed to be saturated with high-profile Christianity; there was lots of God talk, much of it from the same people who were dispensing the negativity and gloom. Itâ€™s possible to cultivate a habit of being energized by and focused on (fill in the blank). If you fill in the blank with something you donâ€™t approve of, that disapproval will come to have a dominant role in your life and thoughts. I have an unfortunate tendency to focus on the bad behavior of Christians, then I wonder why I have to drag myself to church… see others on: ChrchsChrstns • CulturYouthFam • Pg1 • Guest • SpiritualLife [link] […]
This little bit about Jesus: â€œhe was not energized by and focused on his enemiesâ€? is some kind of key. It has stuck with me since you posted this and Iâ€™ve gone back to re-read this one several times.
I spent several years in a small town where a favorite topic of conversation was the bad things other people did. Not â€œwhatâ€™s that youâ€™re reading. . . would you recommend it?â€? or â€œthatâ€™s a beautiful quilt, did you make it?â€? or anything positive or constructive, just â€œainâ€™t it awfulâ€? in one form or another. At the same time, the atmosphere seemed to be saturated with high-profile Christianity; there was lots of God talk, much of it from the same people who were dispensing the negativity and gloom. Witnessing this way is like teaching somebody to drive by telling them â€œdonâ€™t drive off that cliff,â€? â€œdonâ€™t turn in front of that 18-wheeler,â€? etc., but never actually helping them learn how to get where they are going.
After re-reading this â€œgigoâ€? post several times, I realized that itâ€™s possible to cultivate a habit of being energized by and focused on (fill in the blank). If you fill in the blank with something you donâ€™t approve of, that disapproval will come to have a dominant role in your life and thoughts. And depending on what you actually fill in the blank with, you could end up being a fan of angry talk show hosts or an enraged opponent of organized religion, or many other things.
I thought I wasnâ€™t headed in that direction until I truly contemplated this business of being energized by and focused on oneâ€™s enemies. I have an unfortunate tendency to focus on the bad behavior of Christians, then I wonder why I have to drag myself to church. There are all kinds of consequences of focusing on enemies instead of on God.
It’s easy in our “brain-driven” culture to forget thatâ€™s in your heart is stronger than whatâ€™s in your head. Thanks, Larry, for a very uplifting post!
Oh, and I agree with William about the “off” button. A great invention!
I find the button marked “Off” works best.
I think this is the case whether we are listening to these people on the radio, tv, or just riding to work with them or eating lunch with them. The more you hear, the more you listen, and the more you listen, the worse you feel. I think the key is to keep yourself out of these situations as much as possible. Also, don’t forget the power of change – change your radio dial, change your tv channel, etc..