Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's your Pursuit? 1: Swearing, R-rated movies, and "Fine Art"

[note 1: I am in no way arguing that it is always wrong to watch a movie with one rating and not another. I am talking about the lies we tell ourselves to get away from using Christian discernment]

[note 2: This is an area I have always struggled with, so that is why the rhetoric is so strong]

There is a common cry for much of the younger Christian generation "Where's the line?! How far is too far?" The problem with this question is that the assumption is 'I want to go as far as I possibly can.'

There are plenty of popular arguments for why it is ok for Christians to swear, watch any movie that doesn't bite them first, and enjoy all sorts of high-culture "fine art." The most popular argument is that we need to partake to become culturally "relevant." This reasoning works itself out that if you want to reach Mexico, you have to speak Spanish, if you want to reach the world, you have to speak exactly like they are speaking.

I think this reveals a couple things about us. First, our hearts are more interested in worldliness than in holiness. Second, we desire to talk more like hollywood than Jesus or Paul.

Our hearts were once very wicked (Eph 3:1-3) and our hearts and minds were totally taken up with the pleasures of the world. But while we were still totally dead, Christ brought us from death to life (Eph 2:4-6). But this change has not been perfected yet. This is why Paul encourages the church to not walk like they used to, in the emptiness of their mind (Eph 4:17). So a real change has been made, but we can still rebel against the good work God is doing within us.

I don't know about you guys, but when I am in the midst of temptation, my heart will grab onto any rationalization I can so that I am free to sin. My soul was once dead, and now it is alive, but it won't be perfectly submissive to God until I am in His presence.

Second, above and beyond our base desire to wallow in sin, we also don't like to be uncomfortable. Hollywood does not say things that are uncomfortable. They merely reflect the culture. When we speak like them, we lose the ability to redeem them. We lose our chance to present truth to them. Don't think so? Try using relativistic language while describing the passage "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me." You can't. This is an objective statement that says there is only one right way and all other ways are wrong. When we learn our vocabulary from them we can't impart truth to them.

The more you talk like the world, the less you talk like Paul, like Jesus. In fact Jesus said "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18). He got the cultural elites so upset that they lied about him and got him put to death. Now, please come back to me and argue that we need to spend time watching the world's movies and talking like them in order to reach them.

Our pursuit of relevance just reveals how little power we believe the life-altering Gospel truly has. The Gospel does not rely on you being culturally relevant. The Gospel grows of its own accord (Matt 13:31-33). Our job is to be faithful to that gospel. You are going to sound different. You are going to offend people. You are going to tell them that they like to do wrong things (we call it 'sin'), and that they should stop that and do things to the Glory of God.

Don't let your pursuit of sin or cultural relevance distract you from your call to accurately represent Christ and His Gospel to a very lost world.

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