“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What's on Your Entertainment Center?

I had a friend who attends another church ask me an interesting question a while back. He asked, "Does it matter what a pastor watches in his 'private' time?"

I thought that this was an interesting question to be asked out of the blue, so I asked him what had spawned the question.

It seems that he as he had grown closer to his pastor over time, and his pastor was more open with him, he had discovered that his video collection contained, almost exclusively, very questionable R-rated and ABOVE movies. Now, understand that my friend is no prude, so he was not over-reacting to this; he even named a couple of the movies, and I looked them up on the web. VERY questionable!

He asked if I thought it mattered what pastors watched in their 'private time'. I will share in this post my response:

YES, it matters what ALL Christians watch (and listen to for that matter)!

Unbelievably, this is something that has put me at odds with some of my pastor friends. They feel that as long as they watch, or listen to, questionable material in the privacy of their own homes, they are fine. They then recite Romans 14:20, 21, stating they would never watch, or listen to, anything in the presence of a brother/sister that would make said brother/sister stumble.

The Bible is very clear about these things:

1st John 2:15, 16: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.

Psalm 119:36, 37: Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Matthew 5:28: But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

James 1:14, 15: But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

My question is; why would a man of God go down this path? How is it that we have bought off on the concept that what we do is OK as long as we don't do it in front of others? No wonder that there is such a problem with pornography amongst the pastorate! We have not thrown away things that are unprofitable, rather, it seems that, in many cases, we have embraced them, all in the name of Christian 'liberty'.

I am appalled that there would be sermon series playing off of a raunchy TV show, or sly little (wink, wink, nod, nod) innuendos coming from behind the pulpit. Yet, this is what happens when we no longer keep our eyes from evil things, nor guard our hearts! I don't watch TV, but that does not make me any better than anyone else, I have the Internet, so anything that you can see on TV, you can get more of on the Internet. I have to guard my heart, just like any other person, and yes, at times it is a struggle.

I do not believe that you overcome this problem by simply FORCING yourself to NOT turn on the TV, or Internet. That is moralism, plain and simple, and that is not effective as a prophylaxis against this problem. What we need is the mind of Christ.

Ephesians 4:17-24: Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! -- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:5-10: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

These Scriptures do not speak of moralism, but of death; death to the old man and life in the new birth. It is not about forcing yourself, with all you have in you, to not turn on the filth; rather it is killing the desire at its core and taking on the mind of Christ. It is death to us and life in Christ. It is a renewed mind, a new birth, a new life!

I must say that I believe that this moralism is caused, in many cases, by the easy believism which infects much of the evangelical world today. People have been (dare I say this?) coerced into saying a prayer with ALL HEADS BOWED and ALL EYES CLOSED, to ask the Lord into their hearts, and they have been assured that once this 'magic' prayer is said they are OK. Unfortunately that is as far as it goes in many instances, no one stands by this person and helps them walk in the ways of the Lord, no one explains the depth of the new birth, they simply tell you, "You are saved now, welcome aboard." As if this is one big Six Flags ride and they uttered the magic password to get in! Many reacted to an 'altar call' out of emotionalism, or peer pressure, or some other reason other than the call of the Lord. These poor people are in bondage to either moralism, or license; neither of which describes the new birth. They are now 'saved', but STILL in bondage to sin, and they are taught either that they must FORCE themselves, through their own strength, to overcome sin, or, they can do whatever they want, they now have fire insurance! What a horrible thing to do to someone!

Truth be told, when our eyes are fixed on the author and finisher of our faith, and we have the mind of Christ, we do not have to duct tape our TV remote in an out-of-reach location, or disconnect our DSL, rather our DESIRE will not be for the trash of the world.

Yes, we all fail, I do, you do, and everyone I know has. Paul speaks of it when he says that he does what he does not want to do, and what he wants to do he does not do. Yes, that is the struggle, but we have sold our people a bill of goods, and many of us as pastors have been sold a bill of goods, when we have taken the path of easy believism and are trying to make a go of it through our own strength, or worse, simply believing that it does not matter what we watch.

The other fallacy that I find being touted is that pastors feel they need to watch, or listen to, trash to be 'relevant'. What does that mean? That we have to be OF the world to reach the world? I think that we can only be relevant to a lost and dying world by NOT partaking in their ways. How can we be salt and light, when we look JUST LIKE the world. The modern church has mistaken being worldly for being relevant. And that is an incredible tragedy in a world so desperately in need of the only real relevant truth out there, the truth of Christ!

Brothers, let us examine our hearts, our minds and our lives. Let us put on the mind of Christ, and die to ourselves. It is only when WE, as pastors, offer ourselves up as living sacrifices, that our flock will begin to do the same!


Ephraim said...

Ray, I have to say, that if I lived in your area, I might have to attend your congregation every now and then. I certainly appreciate your heart.

I don't know if this will interest you or not, but we have been brought to an understanding of the biblical Hebrew calendar through a group called the "Karaites". They are Jews who live in the Land and keep track of the times according to scripture, such as the when the month of Aviv begins by observing the barley that grows wild. Quite a process actually. I found it fascinating. Where they look and what they look for, it all seems to be very precise from my point of view. One day I may have the opportunity to observe the process firsthand and that might change my view. But for now, I am impressed about how it all works.

Anyway, keeping the biblical calendar sometimes puts us off the rabbinic calendar (as we call it) by as much as a month. Which is what happened this year.

Have you done any study on the Hebraic roots of what has come to be called Christianity? If you have, do you teach any of those concepts to your congregation?

Looking forward to more of your posts...


Ryan said...

"...no one stands by this person and helps them walk in the ways of the Lord, no one explains the depth of the new birth, they simply tell you, "You are saved now, welcome aboard." As if this is one big Six Flags ride and they uttered the magic password to get in!"

This saddens me also to see that salvation has bee reduced to a legal transaction between the individual and God. Jesus is now our legal cousel instead of the author and finisher of our faith. It is therefore not surprising that we have such an anemic Christianity. We have reduced salvation to a one time "experience" instead of understanding, biblically, what it is.

Ray said...

ephraim -- Thank you for your kind words. I still have a long way to go!

Yes, I have read a bit about the Karaites, but not enough to be familiar with them...

Yes, our congregation celebrates the year, i.e. Yom Kippur, Passover, etc., in light of the Messiah.

Thanks for your comments...


Ray said...

ryan -- Yep! The 'experience' has become king, as opposed to the Messiah being King!

Therefore, if you have 'the experience' then ofttimes you are convinced that somehow that was it, and now: back to your regular scheduled programming.

Also, there are pastors who use 'conversions' as a litmus test of their ministerial success. Apparently they have forgotten that it is the Lord who provides the increase, not some artifical and highly manipulative method.

The offer of the gospel should always be there, but the highly suspect method of the high-pressure altar call is simply not Biblical. Many who are wiser than I am have written great pieces about this, but I may one day address some parts of it that I truly find bad.

DOGpreacher said...

Brother Ray,

I see you are one of those old innerrantist/legalist who think we must actually be obedient to God, eh?.....KIDDING!

I just found your blog, and I wrote a 1st part to a 3-part series on the same subject, about 2 weeks ago. I am just now getting back home and to the computer.

LOVE the post!

A Sower,