Tuesday, February 4, 2014
CULTURALLY RELEVANT - REALLY?
I recently saw a blog about the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Frankly, I never thought for a minute that I might enjoy watching it. The story line, the trailers, the hype… it all added up to junk food for me.
But then this blog page came up and there was a serious question in there about how Christians should prepare to watch, or actually watch this movie and my hackles rose. But, as I read, I realized that this answered one of the questions I have about how Christians make social choices in their entertainment: Apparently if it is “culturally relevant” that makes it something that should be watched, or at least can be watched with good conscience.
Now, the blogger is not saying that: he seems to be saying that this is implied in how many Christians choose their social activities. Personally this whole idea is repugnant to me. To me the very fact that it is socially relevant tells me immediately that it is not worth watching.
Don’t we get our fill of social relevance watching the news, or many of the shows on TV? Don’t we get the idea of what is going on out there in the lives of people who act out these things right in front of us, all over the place: TV – Books – Magazines – Concerts – Reality shows – Award shows – News programs? Don’t we have enough saturation of “relevance” in our lives without attending movies that blast those things into our brains through our eyes and ears until we spin with the effects? Isn’t that enough?
Isn’t it true that God’s instructions for filling our minds is all about filling it with things that are “true – noble – right – pure – lovely – admirable – Anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)? And yet we choose to feed on the foul things already in our minds when we eat and drink of “social relevance;” things which are presented as things to admire and participate in and even seek after for our own lives.
Consider our ancient relatives, the Israelites:
They continually concerned themselves with being “culturally relevant:” In Egypt they chose to blend in with the culture and came out of Egypt idol worshipers, even though the Egyptians made them captives. And as they traveled through the desert, they longed to be back where they had been, longing for the falsities that they remembered which had them “a part of things” in Egypt.
Time after time, the Israelites chose to turn to things that were culturally relevant, and it threw them into sin everytime. But, hey, they didn’t want to stand out as the “weird” people: They wanted to be up to date on all things social and it led them to worshiping other gods and to celebrating their social standing in the community because of that.
Is that really what we want to do? Is being able to discuss the latest obnoxious movie with “friends” at “the water cooler” really a good goal in our lives? Is “buddying up” with our co-workers or neighbors the best plan if it means we let God down in His expectations for us. Is dimming our Light for Him the reason we exist? Or are we supposed be a “bright light in the midst of darkness;” perhaps even an example of how not to fill our brains with the wrong information?
Cultural relevance is a great thing when discussing how to present the Gospel to people who resist hearing it or need special word pictures drawn for them to understand it at all. But taking part in activities known to be detrimental to ourselves as well as to those to whom we seek to present Christ is not warranted in Scripture; or anywhere else.
May we strive to discern what is true and admirable and what is not by listening to You - The Truth – and not by the activity’s cultural relevance. May we remember that, though we do not live by the law or a list of rules, we are, none the less, held accountable by the Word and words you have given us to help us understand what it is you desire of us and for us. May we be just a little more discerning about our social behavior and choices as we walk through this year of 2014; keeping alert to the fact that Satan will lie to us about cultural relevance in order to get us to veer off the path that you would have us walking.
Lord, help us to think twice before accepting something as valuable and admirable to us just because it is there in front of us. In Jesus name. Amen.