Tag Archives: Culture

The Back Door to Your Worldview

Imagine that your house was surrounded by robbers that desperately wanted to break in and pillage your belongings. Would you make every effort to secure the home? In addition to locking doors and windows, perhaps you would have an alarm installed, purchase surveillance cameras, and even look into a guard dog or two. Remember, this is a home in a sketchy neighborhood. Sure, there are some good people living on the street, but the number of those that are bent on destruction is far greater. Now, ask yourself if you would leave your back door unlocked and unguarded. My guess is that you would not, and for good reason.

When it comes to our worldview, however, this is what many of us, in fact, do. In most of our homes there is a large electronic device that projects sounds and images to a passive, and often unsuspecting, audience. I am talking about the television, of course. We study the Bible, we go to church, we try our best to live what we believe is a moral and good life, but then we sit in front of the television and feed our minds with the values of the prevailing culture.

In recent years the media has become more outspoken in their dismissal of things sacred. For instance, we now have shows on the major networks called Lucifer and Angel from Hell. In the one case, Satan is introduced to us as a not-so-bad guy after all, and in the other, we have a guardian angel that models ungodliness. But, these are just the shows with shocking titles.

The truth is that television shows have been modeling and presenting an alternative worldview for decades. Passive audiences have sat back and enjoyed television shows that slowly introduced different value systems. For instance, over the last twenty years we can see how homosexuality made its way into shows like Seinfeld, with their famous line, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”; King of Queens, with Deacon’s son’s obsession with makeup; Will & Grace, which, I believe was the first show to feature homosexuality prominently; and Modern Family, a show that has a gay male couple as one of the “modern families.”

But we can also ask ourselves about when a positive spin on Christianity was seen prominently on television. I can think of Seventh Heaven and Touched by an Angel, but these show left the air more than a decade ago and, as far as I am aware, did not go into any detail of the Christian worldview.

Furthermore, I am not suggesting that people should not have television shows that speak to their particular life. After all, I want to have shows that I can relate to and I do not want someone telling me that such entertainment should not be made available. Moreover, I am not of the opinion that we must shield our eyes from what is going on in the world. After all, we need to know something about the world if we are going to engage it. So, I am not upset with most of the shows I list, though I do not care for the sacrilege seen in shows like Lucifer and Angel from Hell. My angst against these shows is that they take aim directly at the Bible.

Now, if we go back to the protected house at the beginning of this blog, there are a few points I would like to make.

  • First, if we simply castle ourselves in, we can miss the joy of the world around us. So, take time to enjoy the creation that God has blessed us with.
  • Second, be aware of what you are letting in through the back door that is the television. Be an active viewer instead of a passive one. This means actively engaging the worldview that is presented in a television show. Talk about what you are watching with your family members and why you agree or disagree with a particular message. You don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but it does help to use discernment.
  • Third, engage with the culture from a Biblical point of view. If you are worried about robbers outside of your home, then you can either hide inside or try to change their minds about being robbers. In the same way, we can either shut off the world, or we can try to transform the world through the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, to do this we must know something about our culture so that we can thoughtfully engage it.
  • Fourth, it may be worthwhile to try and shape the culture by increasing the number of Christian voices coming across the airwaves. If you allow more godly influences into your home, then you will simultaneously have less room for ungodly influences.

Until next time, I pray that God richly blesses you, wherever you are.

On claiming and being

Anybody can claim to be anything. Examples of this can readily be found on the internet. For instance, on occasion, men dressed as decorated war heroes are revealed to have never served in the military. While such behavior is problematic, I would say, that the trouble is even more pronounced in the realm of Christianity.

Jesus tells us in the Bible that the wheat and chaff will grow together and will not be separated until the harvest (Matt. 13:24-30. The chaff is recognizable to those who work the land, but it is easier to harvest everything together and then sift out what is undesirable. However, to someone who is less knowledgeable about farming, the wheat and chaff will appear rather similar. In the same way, there are scores of people claiming to be Christians who, quite simply, are not.

Now, before you go into spasms, contort your face, and call me judgmental, think carefully about my claim. Polls will tell you that more than 70% of Americans are Christians. But, seriously, as you look around to your left and right and across the spectrum of our society, do you sense that 7 out of 10 people are followers of Jesus Christ? Do 7 out of the 10 people you run into act and speak as if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ that informs the way they live. I am not talking about perfection, not at all. Indeed, followers of Christ stumble and fall all the time. Still, I do believe that a true follower of Christ, even in the midst of stumbling, has Christ as his or her goal and will continue to move in a Christ-oriented direction.

Remember, chaff and wheat are similar in appearance. However, only one is acceptable to the farmer. In the same way, a follower of Jesus Christ and someone who simply claims the title of Christian for the purpose of a survey will appear similar in many ways. But, I would say that there are differences that may be noticeable. After all, we should bear fruit according to what we believe.

Now, let me make certain one thing is clear: the laborers can notice that something is amiss, but it is only at the harvest that judgment takes place. In other words, I may have a hunch that a lot of people who claim to be Christian for cultural reasons are not, in fact, followers of Jesus Christ. But, Jesus says to let the wheat and chaff grow together until the time of harvest. There will indeed be a time of sifting at the judgment, but that is not for me.

So, why do I write this? Is this all just a rant? Possibly. I am certainly not above that. A nice rant feels good from time to time. But, I do not feel that this is a rant. Instead, this is a warning to all those in the body of Christ that take comfort in the idea that 70% or more of Americans are Christian. I believe that number has far more to do with people being “cultural Christians” than being any kind of a true indicator of the beliefs of our fellow Americans. As the “nones” and other religious or irreligious demographics grow, I feel that the 70% figure will begin to dramatically decrease. Simply put, nonreligious people that presently claim to be Christian will feel more comfortable identifying as such. Historically, when Constantine came to power over the Roman Empire, approximately 10% of the population was Christian (and I am quite convinced they were true believers). After Constantine made Christianity legal and identified himself with the faith, the number of Christians in the empire exploded. Suddenly, Christianity was culturally valuable. But, what happens when the tide turns? I believe that people will bail out and much of the chaff will voluntarily remove itself.

The consequence of this is that Christians should not sit around on their hands, but instead should actively engage the world around us. Invite folks to church, have a home Bible study and ask neighbors or friends if they would like to attend, get engaged in the religious upbringing of your children or grandchildren, the options are manifold. In short, as followers of Christ, we should be actively engaged in carrying out the great commission to preach the gospel to the world.