Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God First in Media // Start Thinking

This week, we're talking about how to put God first in the music we listen to, the music videos we watch, and the Pins we pin - we're talking media!  This one's a big issue, considering the fact that 1) entertainment is super prevalent in our world today and 2) a lot of said entertainment is not God-pleasing.  People struggling to live in a world that is bent on glorifying all the things that God can't stand have tried so many different approaches to dealing with this, with varying amounts of success.  Christian movies take the silver screen and Christian artists give concerts in front of huge crowds and there is a Christian romance novel for every Nicholas Sparks ever written.  I think, though, that creating a Christian version of every offensive form of entertainment isn't the end-all solution to the issue. I think the way we think is.  In order to chase after God in every area of life,  Christ-followers need to learn to think critically about the messages we absorb through every use of entertainment.

Listen to what I meant, not what I said

The issue of "bad" language in various forms of media is revisited again and again - why?  More important than the individual "bad" words that are found in entertainment is the idea that those words, when put together, plant in our heads.  A song that is completely free of swear words can easily convince my subconscious that drinking until I don't know what's going on is a good way to spend my time or that my parents are idiots.  In the same way, swear words don't make a song, movie, or book unwholesome.  I believe that there are really horrible things that happen in the world, and that sometimes we need to use language with a strong enough connotation to match it.  

What's more important than the words themselves is what they are saying to you.  When we consume entertainment, we can't be passive.  We have to ask ourselves what message a movie is broadcasting, what a magazine is telling us about how satisfied we should be with what we currently have, what kind of behavior a song is telling us is okay.  Is the entertainment that we're consuming helping or hurting our walk with God?  I find that, whether I like it or not, that question is pretty easy to answer most of the time.  If I'm being honest with myself, there is really no neutrality in the messages that I let wash over my brain.  I'd like to think that I can listen to current music that isn't God-pleasing without having it affect me, but it does, in small ways.  For me, I have to cut that kind of stuff out of my life almost completely or it will start to consume me.

Whatever causes you to stumble

Jesus says in Matthew 18:8, "If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better to enter life maimed or crippled than two have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire."  Another part of choosing our entertainment as Christians is to be wise as to what kind of things make our personal walk with Christ more difficult.  We know what goes against God's heart, but there may be additional messages that each of us struggles with specifically.  For example: love songs.  Does God have a problem with love, when it is experienced according to his plan? Of course not!  But a love song, even one about the most pure, God-pleasing kind of love, can make my heart ache for human love.  And you know, I don't need that.  I have a really cute cat.  Also, Jesus.

Paul repeatedly talks about personal stumbling blocks in his letters to the churches.  He acknowledges that things like drinking wine or eating meat sacrificed to pagan gods are not morally wrong, but he many times advises new Christians to avoid them altogether to keep their new faith as safe as possible.  When it comes to marriage, Paul tells his audience to take a wife in order to avoid sexual immorality.  The bottom line is that the way the entertainment we consume influences our walk with God is more that just what's against the Ten Commandments and what isn't.  If something is pulling you away from God, it might be time for that thing to pack its bags and head out.

Consider your audience

Another important consideration when you're choosing your entertainment poison is  who is watching you.  In other words, who are you leading?  Let's consult Paul again for this one.   He coordinated and trained almost all of the early church leaders in some way, so he ought to know what a good leader needs.  His go-to list from 1 Timothy 3 is as follows:

-faithful in relationships
-cool and collected
-good reputation with outsiders

Many of the bullet points on Paul's checklist have as much to do with outward appearances as they do with the heart.  We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but the reality is that we as people are constantly evaluating one another based on what we can see.  Therefore, it's really important for us to think about how we're influencing the people around us.  For me, that means being conscious of the kind of movies I watch with my little sister or the concerts I go to with my friends.  Our entertainment doesn't just affect us - if affects everyone with their eyes on us.

Alright,  let's recap because I know I always need that. Think critically about the messages your entertainment is sending you.  Be wise to your personal stumbling blocks.  Be mindful of how your choices affect those around you.  And, of course, there's no substitute for a solid walk with God so that he's able to keep you on the right path.  Right? //

Make sure you all head over to Itunu's blog to check out what she has to say about God and entertainment today!  She always had goooood stuff to say!  Also, tune in next week for another post on an as yet undetermined topic about putting God first!


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