As I have tried to make clear in past posts, this isn't about looking super spiritual, pointing fingers of blame at those who don't do the same, or securing our salvation. However, my hope is that by sharing what God has been teaching us as we strive to become more like Christ, you will have something to chew on as you seek God's will for your own life. And while you may not feel conviction about how you spend time relaxing (I'm not the Holy Spirit!), I challenge you to look at your life and see what God may be asking you to give up or change as you pursue a life devoted to His will, rather than yours.
As Believers, we are to become more like Christ as we grow up in our faith, not more accepting of what the world deems "normal." As parents, our job is to model for our kids the living and active role of Christ in our everyday life, to help them understand how His attributes are what we strive to imitate, and that the lens of Scripture is how we view the world.
One of the reasons for our big purge was our growing sensitivity to one particular issue: Jesus is the Name of my Savior, not a word to be used to casually express frustration. And though I hadn't stooped to the level of taking God's Name in vain, other crass phrases had definitely crept into my vocabulary... unless my mother was around, and then I found myself paying attention to what I said. So - the million dollar question - if I wouldn't say it in front of my mother, why would I say it when Jesus hears my innermost thoughts?
For the record: I do not expect the world to act like Christ (Philippians 3:18-19). Additionally, our goal is not to protect our children from the world (we couldn't do that, even if we wanted to), but rather, not to elevate the world's actions as approved behavior through our entertainment choices in the surroundings of our home. There is - in my opinion - a major difference between overhearing someone take the Lord's Name in vain while out in the world, and comfortably sitting on our couch, essentially approving the action by choosing to watch a film where it's casually thrown around.
And it's not just the language. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it's the accepted lifestyles and actions that we no longer wish to passively condone through our choice of films and shows. Over the years, there have been times when I have found myself blushing when someone has asked to borrow one of our DVDs. I've been uncomfortable when loaning out our James Bond collection because casual sex with new acquaintances wasn't something I'd encourage in life, but apparently if it's "just pretend" and on the screen, it's okay.
For years I told myself that it wasn't a big deal for us to watch films with sex, violence, and R-rated language because we were both married, mature Christians, and we could separate those things from the possible positive undertones in the film. It didn't bother or affect us (or so I told myself) and I came up with plenty of reasons why it was okay for us, despite the fact that I would have wished for a hole to open up and swallow me if Jesus had physically walked into the room while I was watching 007 bed the women he just met. What changed this summer was finally seeing the disconnect between what we believed and would want our kids to learn, and what we watched.
"We still live in the world, and you can't bury your head in the sand! If you don't expose your children to it, they will just learn about it without you." I can hear you saying this, muttering it under your breath, rolling your eyes, or even shouting it at your screen right now. And you're absolutely right! We're not naively thinking, "If we don't show our children films with cursing in them, they will never hear it." TRUE STORY: I learned my first curse words (really good ones, too!) in the toddler's Sunday school at our church. I was living 3-year-old proof that you can be in a "holy huddle," surrounded by Christians, and still experience the world in it's midst.
Instructing, not exposing - this is the switch that flipped for us. Do we want to impress upon our children the glory and awesomeness of God, or the depravity of man? Do we want Hollywood to teach our children about the world, or do we want to help them view the world with discernment by sharing with them God's perfect plan and man's fallen state? These are the kinds of questions we started asking ourselves that have led us to this point, and though the HOW is still being figured out, the WHY has become clear.
The Gospels are explicit that our role in this world is to shine our Light on the hill, not hide it in the safety of our Christian circles (Matthew 5:14-16). Jesus actively modeled for us how we are to behave in this world. He knew the histories and actions of those who surrounded Him, yet showed them love, cared about their pain, befriended, ate with, and talked to those that the "holy huddle" of the day, scorned (Luke 7). Jesus was in the world, but not to blend in - He was there to show a better way.
Jesus was perfect, coming to save the world that He was engaging. I know this might come as a surprise (that's sarcasm!), but we are not perfect like Jesus. It's easy for us to try to be in the world, and find ourselves getting swept up by the world. No longer just acknowledging the actions of the world, but joining in because we don't want them to think we're some sort of goody two-shoes. In our desire to be accepted - often with the good intention of "developing a relationship" that would, ideally, lead to sharing our faith - we tend to get swallowed up, no longer seeing things as black and white.
Bottom Line: I am very much a work-in-progress. I'm 34 years old, and I've been a Christian for 31 of those years, and yet here I am, still trying to figure out how to get out of my own way, to follow after God with my whole life, and die to self so that I may live for Him. Jesus is still working on me, and #iamthankful for His patience and mercy.