When I mention the name Rupert Murdoch what immediately comes to mind? The phone hacking scandal with the News of the World. Rupert Murdoch is a global media tycoon, his empire spans newspapers, publishers, and TV channels as well as spanning continents Europe, America, Australasia and Asia. His influence cannot be overestimated. Forbes places him at number 24 on their list of the most influential people.
Murdoch is not a self-made man, he inherited his first two newspapers from his father but he has transformed that inheritance into a global force. He has not always enjoyed success in business or in his private life, having been married 3 times.
But what about his beliefs? His mother was from a Jewish family, his wife is catholic and Murdoch describes himself as a Christian. But that leads many to question that assertion because whilst his media empire includes Zondervan the Bible and Christian book publishers it also includes red tops which pride themselves of salacious storylines and soft pornography.
So what would Jesus say to Rupert Murdoch?
It’s not what you say it’s what you produce.
Turn to Luke 6:43-49. Jesus has been teaching the crowd who assume that they are in the kingdom because of their birthright and religious practices. He gives them two pictures to show the difference between claiming to be one of his people and really being his people.
The first is an image from the garden; a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit and he goes on to say that what comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts(45).
In the second picture Jesus uses images from the building site as he describes two men, one builds on a solid foundation one doesn’t. Jesus words are the solid foundation to build life on and the difference between the two will one day be obvious.
I think the first thing Jesus would say to Rupert Murdoch would be to challenge him to examine the fruit in his life because it reveals where our hearts are. It’s not what you say you are you are but what you are you are and to encourage him to build wisely now for eternity by listening to his words.
The Gospel brings change
In many ways Rupert Murdoch reminds me of Zacchaeus, turn to Luke 19:1-10. Zacchaeus was not a popular man, in fact he has become something of a societal hate figure because of his work practices and the working practices of those who worked under him. But Jesus deliberately singles out and spends time with Zacchaeus even though money at the expense of morality is what has driven his living.
Jesus spends time with Zacchaeus because he knows the power of the gospel to bring change – even with someone like Zacchaeus. And the gospel does produce considerable change at considerable cost to Zacchaeus, it produces fruit as Zacchaeus gives back to those he has cheated and seeks practically to live in the light of the love he has been shown.
Jesus would welcome Rupert Murdoch and explain to him the scope and power of the gospel but that recognising that welcome, understanding that Jesus has given everything for you calls us to change, not to earn God’s favour but because we enjoy God’s favour.
Warning the watchers
Often in the gospels Jesus has more than one audience as he teaches and often he teaches more than one audience. Turn back to Luke 6, we see it here as Jesus is primarily teaching his disciples but he also warns the crowd. Similarly in speaking to Rupert Murdoch I think Jesus would also issue us with a warning similar to that found in v41-43.
Jesus warns us that often we find it easier to spot sin in others than we do in ourselves. Often we have a blind spot to our own sin. Jesus isn’t saying don’t help others see sin in their lives but be careful to examine yourself and invite others to examine your hearts and lives.
It is easy to sit here and question Rupert Murdoch - how can he produce papers like that and so on... But do we read them? Do we love the salacious gossip about celebrity love lives? Do we enjoy the pictures?
Be concerned about your fruitfulness and building your life as a response to who you know Jesus to be and what he has said. Help others but don’t judge always remembering your experience of grace and the power of the gospel to bring change.
The gospel has the power to bring change, to radically change us, to produce fruit.