Recently, the sermon was titled "Clean Your Ears!" My dear friend and Pastor of Caring Ministries gave this sermon and I think she'd be pretty pleased to know that I have been going around and around in my head over this one! The application was that as Christians we need to be very careful about what we hear/watch/read/etc. lest it draw our minds and hearts away from God and the things He wants us to focus on.
My first concern with the sermon was outward focused in that I felt like if someone was visiting the church for the first time and maybe was not a Christ follower, they could have walked away thinking that the message was "If you're a Christian, do not read, watch TV, go to the movies or participate in anything culturally relevant." But then I figured that I was just being nit-picky and got over it.
I started to think about how this applied to me personally, and this is where the wheels started to fall off this culturally saturated truck. I read A LOT. I watch TV A LOT. I do not listen to the radio a lot at all, only in the van and then it's an endless rotation (thanks, Toyota, for the 6 CD changer) of Silly Songs, Philadelphia Chickens, Laurie Berkner, the CD the kids got from VBS, and a Worship NOW! CD. The last movie I saw in the theater was High School Musical 3 with my niece and I do feel that the ridiculousness of the film put my salvation in question.
That being said...Should I not be reading my mystery/whodunit type books? Hmmmm...After reading them, I have never attempted to commit or solve a crime. The sometimes gory content has never seeped into my dreams. But yet, I do draw the line at what I will read. No science fiction here, please. Wizards and vampires can camp out on someone else's nightstand. Why? Why do I accept murder and thievery as passable literature but fantasy and magic are somehow ungodly?
Should I not be watching the (too long, I know) list of shows that I enjoy? I'm so torn! Again, I have my staunchly ambiguous standards down to a T. Shows like Dancing With The Stars make me angry because I think it's touted as "family friendly", but is more like she-who-wears-the-least-gets-the-most-votes or creepiest-camera-love-wins. But, So You Think You Can Dance is awesome in my eyes because they're professionals and that's what professional dancers wear (or barely wear).
If I closed myself off to everything "of this world", would I be able to effectively reach people in the name of the Lord? Do I need to be culturally relevant to earn the right to be heard? Or is being culturally relevant an excuse to be able to speak intelligently about last nights CSI or Office? If I know who got voted off Survivor, will that give me more credibility?
Jay was seriously getting frustrated with me as we discussed this because I kept going around and around and around. To everything he said, I had an equal and opposite reaction. I'm looking for black and white answers where there are none to be found. And that frustrates me. I want someone older and wiser and closer to the Lord to give me a run down on every thing I read, watch or hear and tell me if it's okay in the eyes of Lord or not. That way, I could have a tangible check list and maybe a cool clip board that I could show off to people and look super holy in the eyes of man...wait a second, that's not right! Jay's more level headed, practical advice is to ask the Lord directly...cut out all wiser middle men and clip boards. If I'm not sure if something may be causing me to sin or worse yet, causing someone else to stumble, ask God.
It sounds so simple! So why am I struggling with it? Is it because I'm afraid of the answer?
It's a slippery slope between being "in this world" and being "of this world" and I'm looking for something to hold onto.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." -Philippians 4:8