The late Walter Matthau acted in or produced 62 movies in his 45-year career. These included “A Face in the Crowd”, “Hello, Dolly”, “The Sunshine Boys” and “Fortune Cookie”, with which he won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. A man of multiple talents, he is best known in his later years for work such as “Grumpy Old Men”, “The Odd Couple” and “Dennis the Menace”, in which he played a curmudgeonly, cantankerous, ill-tempered sourpuss. For many of us, the movie that encapsulated this carefully crafted persona was “The Bad News Bears”, where he became Morris Buttermaker, an alcoholic pool cleaner and former baseball player who accepts money to coach a dysfunctional little league team. He embodies the worst of humanity, both in speech and action, yet makes the case for late repentance.
The name of this fictional team was simply The Bears; the adjective is provided due to the personality of their leader and most of the misfit members of the club. They included a thug, a bully and the no-nonsense daughter of the coach’s girlfriend, who are indeed bad news up to the championship game. In essence, they are The Bad News Bears that bear bad news. Whether by hook or crook, inheritance or choice, we have spent our lives, wittingly or unwittingly, participating in group activity. And as we look back, how many of those “teams” turned out to be bad news, leading us to the bad choices that have permeated our lives? There is a famous Spanish saying that states “tell me who you hang with, and I will tell you who you are.” Whether the cleanup hitter or the benchwarmer, we make the team, and the team makes us.
Solo life then seems to be the antidote for such a malady. After all, had God not provided Adam the companion who “induced” him to sin, he would still be hanging around Eden alive and well, and “perfect.” Of course, that would have taken all of us out of the picture and so the perfect alternative was put in place. And then, given we come out of our mother’s womb with a sinful nature, our association with bad news teams is sealed from the beginning. Given this inevitability, should we join them if we can’t beat them? As Christians, we are reminded not to conform ourselves to this world given Jesus chose us out of it, and not to love the things of the world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds as we await our eternal citizenship in Heaven… what to do?
The Great Commission advises us to go make disciples of all nations, in other words, leave the comfort zone and impact the bad news without them impacting us; unfortunately, in some cases, this is better said than done. Time after time we send our children to college with the expectation that they will impact their fellow students with Kingdom news only to find that the opposite occurs. We must then realize that these attacks were put in place from the beginning, and that it is impossible to tackle bad news in the flesh. We are specifically told that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Thus, in order to fight the good fight we must understand that the opposite of bad news is not better news but rather The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our daily armor
It is not by happenstance that this newspaper is so aptly named. Month after month the publisher and his staff work diligently to put a product out with the hopes of assisting the readers in facing the ugliness of the day. Try juxtaposing the front-page articles of the New York Times with the articles of this newspaper… bad news vs. good news. If we are to faithfully conduct the Great Commission, we must put on the armor of God daily by reading and doing the Word while having direct conversation with Our Lord. And I might add, after doing so, it may behoove us to read one of the articles contained in this periodical to further equip us to confront the bad with the good, while not allowing the latter to contaminate us. As a community, we are blessed to have this holy instrument at our fingertips.
Solution? God’s Good News
One hundred years ago, in 1924, the Fascists took over Italy. There were huge riots in India. We invaded the Dominican Republic. The west recognized the Soviet Union. There were revolts and massacres in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Spain, Korea and Bavaria, among others, and astronomical inflation gripped Germany while Adolf Hitler was released from prison thus catapulting the nations into World War II. That is a lot of bad news. This, however, pales in comparison to the expert’s forecast for 2024 which calls for the collapse of the dollar and the stock market, artificial intelligence becoming the norm, Christianity being attacked on all fronts, the continuing strife in Israel and Ukraine, and the circus atmosphere of an election year as our national debt spirals out of control. And let us not forget, which we have totally done, the cruel and devastating genocide and famine in Sudan. That sounds like a terrible forecast with many unsolvable problems. But in the midst of despair there is great news. The biggest problem of all was solved when Our Savior came to us and relinquished his life in our behalf twenty centuries ago, thereby affording us salvation for the taking. That single acts of kindness trumps all the chaos that surrounds us. Do not let the negativity of the world impact your walk this year. You are in good hands with the Almighty; nothing can separate us from the love of God….that’s Good News.
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Read more articles by Omar Aleman at: goodnewsfl.org/author/omar-aleman/