A few years ago, I had a conversation with a fellow believer. The conversation somehow came around to the subject of the media and to television.
My fellow believer mentioned a number of TV programmes which he watched without fail; I found his choice somewhat stunning, to say the least! He then mentioned a Hollywood Movie which was due to be shown on television in a few days. He said, "You must see it, Robin, it is a wonderfully funny film! I saw it when it came out two years ago and can't wait to see it again."
Well, I decided to watch some of that film, but after no more than ten minutes I switched it off. The film had an abusive and foul attitude towards life and towards women. Were the opening ten minutes typical of the whole film? Maybe not, but I had seen enough!! At the next worship service, my fellow believer made it quite clear that he had watched the whole film and enjoyed it!!
Why do we Christians vary in some of these areas?
Let me say at once I would hate for pastors and ministers to say exactly which programmes and movies were suitable for Christians and which were not, since personal taste and preference obviously comes into this.
What, then, should be a believers guide as to taste and suitability?
I am reminded of the old song from Disney's classic cartoon, Pinocchio - 'Always let your conscience be your guide'!! We Christians should have a heightened and developed conscience due to the indwelling Holy Spirit! After all, even unbelievers have been given a conscience and this often lends, at least some, moral protection.
But this should be much more acute and fine-tuned for the Christian!!
I lament that the sense of 'worldliness' as something to be avoided is rapidly disappearing from many modern evangelicals. Some evangelicals are even starting to say that the only ones who complained of 'worldliness' were the old-type fundamentalists! But this is just not so. I am afraid that the loss of a perception of worldliness (as something which Christians should avoid), has gone hand in hand with the fact that modern evangelicals read the Scriptures far less than they used to, often complaining that the 'demands of modern life' mean that they have less time.
But to return to my opening point, is it really a morally and spiritually building exercise for a believer to sit down and watch a programme or movie which contains bad language, or which depicts an immoral lifestyle which the director encourages his/her audience to laugh at/approve of? Or to feel 'at one' with the main characters despite their plainly immoral lifestyle??
Many of us preachers keep saying that just as we will be physically unhealthy if we keep eating 'junk food', we will surely become spiritually unhealthy for constantly allowing mental 'junk food' into our minds!!
Many Christians are, of course, well aware of this and live a suitable lifestyle of 'guarding the entrance to their minds' - unfortunately, many others are much slower to see the connection! These things are indications of 'worldliness'!
So one indication of worldliness is to allow our minds to be unduly influenced by a liberal, permissive, yet 'politically correct' media.
Another indication is how much time/money/attention believers spend on themselves whilst failing to recognise that even in our modern western society, we are often surrounded by fellow believers who have real needs which we could help with!
I deeply lament that many believers spend hundreds or thousands of pounds/dollars every year on expensive holidays and leisure activities but some of them give very little thought to overseas Christian missions who very often have a considerable financial struggle even to maintain a status quo of missionary activity! Frequently, money and affluence are the first things in the lives of many us here in the West, and we are kidding ourselves if we claim that Jesus Christ is at the centre of our lives!
But, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, this should not be so. Why have so many of us put money, career, and prosperity in place of the Lord that we once committed ourselves to?? Here are just a few Scriptures to consider:
'Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." And, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."' (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
'Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.' (James 4:4).
'By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.' (2 Peter 1:4).
'Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever' (1 John 2:15-17).
The world is supposed to see our light shining. But can our lights ever truly shine if we go along with all the same pursuits and appetites as the society which we live in?
To conclude, let me make it clear what I am not saying!
I am not saying that Christians should be recognisable because we are the ones who go around with long faces and a spirit of condemnation toward almost everything we see!! If any reader thinks I am saying that, they are seriously misunderstanding my central point! In fact, at times, there is no doubt that some believers unwisely give just that impression! No! I am saying, enjoy the good things in life by all means, enjoy your leisure time and family time, but don't go along with the practical atheism which lies behind much of our modern media and entertainment. Don't allow yourselves to be influenced by the blatant consumerism which often surrounds us all!
Enjoy that holiday, but if you are financially prosperous, can you help others to enjoy a holiday too?
While not desiring that any of us go forward with a new determination to be more judgemental of fellow believers, nevertheless, surely these are some of the things which we should be considering and asking ourselves!
Robin A. Brace.
WITNESS TO THE WORD MENU