If you haven’t been following this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), don’t worry; you haven’t missed much. But what you did miss seems more like a soap opera than leaders of the world discussing politics and economics. Here were a few of the headlines: 1) Tony Abbott threatened to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin; 2) Vladimir Putin was “hitting on” China’s President’s wife, and 3) President Obama’s Nicorette caused national disgrace.
Is it just the media, or is the whole world easily distracted by side stories, gossip, and pageantry? The real message and importance of an event is often overshadowed by nonsense. The Bible warns believers against engaging in foolish chatter (Titus 3:9), myths (1 Timothy 1:4), and ignorant speculation (2 Timothy 2:23). We are called to, “avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16).
Now, consider the truth behind those headlines:
- Australian Minister, Tony Abbott, had promised to “shirtfront” Putin, a term that comes from an illegal, midsection rugby hit. What Abbott really meant was that he would hit Putin hard on the illegal rocket launcher sales that downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and killed 38 Australian citizens. Rather than focusing on illegal arms sales, downed planes, and loss of life though, headlines were about “shirtfronting.”
- In the cold air, Vladimir Putin placed a shawl around Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President, Xi Jinping. This was a harmless act of kindness, but Chinese chat boards lit up with rumors of a Putin-Liyuan attraction. Chinese authorities immediately cleansed the Internet and shut-down anyone who mentioned it. Rather than reporting massive Chinese censorship, headlines fueled gossip about a possibly love affair.
- President Obama made headlines as he emerged from his limousine chewing gum. While this might not seem like a big issue, it is a cultural “no-no” in most Asian countries. It was, in the Chinese view, horribly embarrassing. Never mind that China has horrible pollution and human rights issues; the story of the day was Nicorette.
Don’t be fooled and distracted by the side stories. Keep the big picture in mind!
Focusing on a storm caused Jesus’ disciples to forget to have faith in Him; focusing on a weeping woman caused some to question Jesus’ status as a prophet; and focusing on temple pageantry distracted some disciples from His greater Kingdom.
What about you? Will you be distracted by the side stories or will you keep your eyes focused on Christ and the big picture? Don’t lose sight of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. And never let name-calling, gossip, and pageantry carry you away from what matters most.