Several years ago I decided to do, for lack of a better description, a TV fast. I decided that I was wasting too much time glued to the TV. So I put it in a closet. You might be surprised that I actually survived. The truth be told, I actually benefited from the decision. There was one benefit that caught me completely by surprise.
This past week in our “Transformed” series we moved into a section of Romans 12 that presented 13 different practices that lead to growth as a follower of Christ. If you are interested in the sermon “Letting My Actions Speak,” you can listen here. I was personally challenged in my study of these verses in a number of different ways. I want to focus on the second practice mentioned, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”( Romans 12:9) The word “abhor” caught my attention. It is not a word that I use nor do I hear it used by others. Yet it is the word that the translators of the ESV chose to use. Now, I know enough English to know that the term carries the idea of “hating” something. My studies reveals that it also communicates the idea of being “disgusted,” as being disgusted with some type of behavior.
I asked those present in the service how they would feel if I stuck my figure up my nose and dug out a big bogger and proceeded to eat it. The consensus was that most people would be grossed out. I am disgusted just putting this illustration into words. The point I wanted to make is that we all too often are nonchalant about the evil around us and the evil practices in our lives. Many Christians today can sit through graphically immoral movies scenes and enjoy it. Some enjoy reading novels because of the juicy salacious sections. When this happens in our lives we are allowing evil to be made good. The prophet Isaiah warned those that were refining the meaning of what is evil and what is good. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
My desire is not to try to make myself look better than others or criticize the moral choices of others even if I do not agree with them. What I want us to see is how far, we as follower of Christ, have drifted from God’s desire for us. This is just another example of how we have allowed ourselves to be pressed into the culture mold. The more we become indifferent to evil the easier it is for us to participate. The path only leads us into greater evil and further away from God. All too often our eyes are not open until it is too late and we are facing the consequences of our choices.
It was not until I turned the TV off those many years ago that my spiritual eyes began to open to how hard and indifferent I had become to the evil around me. I had failed to abhor sin and the cost was my spiritual passion. The challenges are even greater today with the slide in the value system of our culture and the media access that we have through the internet, TV and even on our phones. Paul’s reminder to the Christians in Romans is to let what Christ has done for them draw them away from the ways of this world and toward thoughts and actions that help us to become more like Jesus.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson