It is easy to get lost in the influences in our lives. The influences could involve media like online media, video games or even a news channel. They can also include a favorite TV program and of course our friends. It usually does not take long before these life focuses become empty. This is usually the time that a person moves onto something else or try to keep the passion alive. The end result is that none of these influences are truly fulfilling.
We launched a study this past week from 1 Corinthians. It is a series that will challenge us to “Be Wise” in a world driven by foolishness. What I have noticed in my studies is that 1 Corinthians brings a powerful challenge to followers of Jesus today. It is a challenge to not be swept away by the cultural influences that attempt to direct our lives. It is a reminder of the need to put God’s truth into practice in our lives.
I accepted Christ in the early eighties as a young adult. What hit me as I grew in my faith from studying the Bible were the inconsistencies of arguments against cultural influences. I was even more baffled by the absence of Biblical insight and truth regarding these issues. I can remember hear things like “Christian should not go to movies” followed up with the reason that “that practice would support a non-Christian industry.” Now, I would encourage a similar response to movies and now days all media, but I could not use the reasoning I heard. I wondered, coming from a perspective that takes a strong position against alcohol, does that mean I should not shop at grocery stores that sell it?
What was missing from these and many other arguments against cultural practices was the true wisdom. Now, I have mentioned before that wisdom is the application of God’s truth. What surprised me is that it seemed as if very few had a Biblical response. So let’s talk about media (movies, etc.) Why should a follower of Christ be careful about the media they consume? Because the media you consume will shape your commitment to Biblical practices. Paul states it best, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” (Romans 12:2a). Many years ago I struggled with TV and still would today if I did not do something. My struggle was with turning it off. I found myself sitting through commercial after commercial and program after program. What a waste of time! But do you know what was more significant, I was growing spiritually cold and hard to Jesus. The crude language no longer offended me. Questionable scenes stopped fazing me. My wife would often comment about stuff I was watching. I slowly became numb and indifferent to the influences of culture. And something else happened; my spiritual fire for Jesus was going out.
This is what makes our study on “Be Wise” from 1 Corinthians so significant. It reminds us of the dangers of a wholesale acceptance of culture. Paul’s letter is speaking to followers that are wrestling with the same things as we do today. I am reminded of the Apostle Peter words, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
The influence that you choose to allow in your life will influence the direction you go! It is time to take control of your life.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson