Bad News is the Path to the Dark Side
What Happens When You Listen to Bad News Too Much?
You could begin to think with “us vs. them” mentalities. Soon you can begin to hold certain groups or individuals with suspicion. Then you don't love your enemies. A seed was planted in the soil of your heart that begins to sprout into a root of bitterness. (1) You listen to more bad news and continue to think about it. You water that seed in the process. Over time, that root of bitterness, which you water with fear and anxiety, will grow more entrenched with suspicion. It will break out of the soil of your heart into a weed. The anxiety you carry will turn to anger towards those people you hold with suspicion and a spirit of unforgiveness for their reported sins (no matter which side of the political spectrum they fall). As Jedi Master Yoda said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
This is why Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Herodians and Pharisees. (2) The leaven (teaching) of the Herodians refers to the operations of political spirits. A little leaven works through the whole batch of dough. (3) Thinking according to a certain thought pattern such as “God helps those who help themselves” changes one's entire outlook on life. The result of that way of thinking, for instance, will be a self-condemning attitude when one doesn’t measure up to his/her own standards and/or a judgmental and critical spirit towards those who don't “help themselves” by their own efforts, the right philosophy, political views, etc.
Jesus says to repent for the kingdom of heaven in at hand. (4) To repent means to “change the way you think.” Think not according to the way that seems right to a man which produces suspicion leading to fear, anger, hate, and suffering. (5) When that seed planted in your heart (the leaven of Herod) is fully conceived, in the end it gives birth to death. (6) Maybe you won't physically kill homeschooled farm-girls, KKK members, drug dealers, sex offenders, certain politicians, or whatever group of people you hold with fear, anger, hatred, suspicion, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. However, you at least will slowly be killing yourself as you lack peace and love in your heart whenever you think about those people whom consider your enemies after a constant diet of bad news.
I remember a YouTube video of a Jew in Israel who struck up a conversation with an Arab neighbor. It started as a very cordial exchange in which the Jewish man initially mistook the vlogger to be French rather than Palestinian. After a continual diet of bad news about his Palestinian neighbors from the news media, the Jew just could not believe that the friendly Palestinian Arab wasn't a Frenchman. A seed of fear and suspicion planted into his heart had turned into a root of bitterness. Watered and grown in his mind over the course of years, it worked through his entire worldview so that he couldn't possibly see the Arab in a different, positive light.
A little leaven of the Herodians (the political spirit who preached to its host a constant diet of bad news, a message of fear and suspicion) worked through the whole batch of dough (the mind of the Jew in this case). That is just one way the leaven of Herod creates a spiritual stronghold in the minds of Jews, Arabs, liberals, conservatives, or anybody of any ethnicity with any attitude of suspicion and judgment towards one’s neighbors.
What is the solution? Instead of listening to bad news that produces fear, we need to listen to good news that when planted onto the soil of our hearts will grow rooted and grounded in love. (7) We need to change the way we think constantly. Instead of letting the leaven of the Pharisees (religious attitudes/spirits) and Herodians (political attitudes/spirits) change the the we think, the leaven of the kingdom of God needs to permeate the way we think, which will change the way we act. Then our attitudes will change from fear, suspicion, judgment, anger, hate, depression, etc. to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, etc. (8)
For a brief overview about the good news (the leaven of the kingdom of God) that we should always be thinking about, see my article “Have You Heard the News?”
See Mark 4:14-20; Hebrews 12:15
See Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:14ff; Luke 12:1f
See Mark 1:15
See Proverbs 14:12
See James 1:15
Language borrowed from Ephesians 3:15
See Galatians 5:22-23