|Our Treasure (AKA "What Goes In, WILL Come Out")|
(by Chris Long)
Last night, I went out to a Christian church service with fellowship time afterwords for singles like me. We did worship and most people were singing with their hands raised. Then we listened to God's Word that was taught. The pastor himself in giving his message opened up the floor for people to shout out their favorite "relationship movies", which might have been okay if he had gone on to use that to really make the point that most of those movies are far away from the mark that Jesus wants for us - that He has much more for us relationship-wise then those movies portray (usually with one-night-stands etc.) But he never really did that. In fact he himself showed clips from an older movie I hadn't seen and stated something like "I really like it and it's a great movie, even though at the end, it gets all crazy and twisted with a sexual plot.").
When he was done speaking, we closed in prayer. Then we had fellowship time. At the table where I was sitting, the topic quickly turned to movies and for the next 20 minutes or so the other 4 people at my table went back-and-forth naming a slew of movies that were "awesome" that I knew to be full of content inappropriate for Christians, culminating in the discussion of a movie that even its title tells you everything you need to know about it. I won't even tell you what that is as the title alone could be problematic for some sensitive ears, but let's just say it and the entire conversation was unwholesome and made me feel dirty at a Christian event.
I wish I could say my experience last night was an isolated occurrence. But it's not. I've experienced several other similar experiences through the years. I'm convinced there's a whole bunch of people that truly don't see the connection between what they consume media-wise, and their thoughts/actions/words, and the contradiction to their stated new life in Christ. In other words, they are ignorant. I'm also convinced there are a whole bunch of people who do see the contradiction, and just don't care. There are an awful lot of "Christian game players" who want to feel good about themselves and to think that they're OK with God and will go heaven when they die, but don't want God to invade their "real life here" and change their behavior or ask them to change their media habits or whatever. They know how to use the lingo and raise their hands in worship and sing loudly and act all spiritual-like, but their actions outside of the church-context (or even as I experienced last night, still in a church-context of sorts) would suggest they really just want enough of God to keep them out of hell, but not have anything to do with their life. [For the record, I believe this is a VERY dangerous position to adopt - such people may be in for a rude awakening...]
And this sadly sometimes seems to apply just as much to those standing in the pulpit as it does those sitting in the pews. And in fact, how can we really expect those in the pews to come up higher when their leaders aren't modeling it?
This morning when I got up, I found this quote by Vance Havner in my email inbox: "What we love usually manages to get into our conversation. What is down in the well of the heart will come up in the bucket of the speech."
And there it is. People can hide for a while by seeming super-spiritual at church (pastors included), but eventually most people will reveal their true colors - where they're really at - without even realizing it. Our words say a whole lot about us and what we really believe - what we really love.
People that spend much of their time talking about all the latest movies or how awesome this t.v. show or that t.v. show is or this character or whatever - especially when those shows or movies are ones that Jesus would cringe at - reveal much about where their heart is.
Besides feeling a bit dirty (i.e. "slimed") with the discussion last night, I also felt very out-of-place. While I own a fair number of movies, the majority are not the "cool ones" by the world standards: Most of mine are either Christian or family-oriented films. My favorite movies are those that support me or encourage me in the faith in some way. Not ones that are seeking to tear that faith down.
I realize this is all a process as we mature in Christ. I'm much more serious about this stuff than I used to be, and I myself could do better and come up higher, so me sharing this today is for me also!
We're told in Philippians 4:8, to think on (put into our minds) things that are "noble", "right", "pure", "lovely", "admirable", "excellent", and "praiseworthy."
If a believer spends their days and nights listening to worldly music, watching worldly t.v. shows and movies, engaging in worldly entertainment, focussing on the world's gadgets and gizmos, etc. then it probably shouldn't come as a big surprise why they are not living the victorious, abundant life God wants them to live. I mean, if a movie has inappropriate language and/or sexual situations (stirs up lust) and/or messages and themes contrary to Scripture (i.e. "revenge", "living together before marriage is ok", "homosexuality should be celebrated", etc.) then we really need to ask ourselves what part of that is "noble", "right", "pure", "lovely", "admirable", "excellent", and "praiseworthy."
What goes in, will come out. You cannot consume content on a regular basis with vulgar language and contrary stuff and not have it affect you. I know people fool themselves into thinking they can. They are wrong, plain and simple. What you put in, will affect you, and will come back out one way or another.
But this isn't just about movies or music or media. Those are just symptoms of the deeper issue. It's about what we really believe in and what we really love.
Jesus said "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21 ESV). I have found this verse applies to a lot more than just money.
And what is in our heart WILL come out of our mouth.
May we each strive to make Jesus our treasure and obeying Him and following Him our highest priority.
Action Item/Practical Application:
This is version 1.1 of this document (March 17, 2013).