Galatians 4:12-20 & Become as I, for I as You

The morning was crisp and cool. I leashed up Fro and Sam. They were insanely excited at the prospect of a walk in cool weather. I placed the iconic white ear buds in my ears and commenced listening to James Harleman talk about Christianity and culture. He talked about how he loved watching movies after his conversion and seeing the gospel in them. He spoke to another pastor about the matrix and all the gospel implications involved and the other pastor said “What? I just watched it as entertainment, for a distraction?”

So we go to movies, and entertainment for our Sabbath?

Harleman then attacks the idea of entertainment ever being “safe”. Culture is never safe. We are never safe in this world. He then clarifies that he does not condemn Christians watching a movie just for entertainment, but we should pray and hope that all of life, including entertainment becomes a godly engagement.

For example I watched Gladiator again this weekend. Now I often approach movies looking for illustrations, conversations starters, etc. but I had grown lax. Also I often looked at snippets rather than the whole picture. For example I have used Maximus’ line “what we do in life echoes in eternity” numerous times. But notice the contrast between the rightful heir Maximus, and the rejected heir Commodus. Maximus is humble, brave, sacrificial, serving, and seeks to honor Marcus and the people of Rome by returning rule to the senate. Commodus is selfish, prideful, and makes much of the people only so that the people will make much or him. Maximus overcomes the tyranny of Commodus and opens the eyes of Rome not as a conquering general, but as a lowly gladiator. In his weakness he overthrows the highest ruler in the world. Sound familiar?

Let me wrap this up. Three options when dealing with culture:

1) Be a sectarian. Completely pull apart from culture and create a Christian bubble. Never let anyone in this bubble that might pollute it and never go outside the bubble where you might be infected. After all it is truly not safe outside of the bubble.

2) Be a syncretist. become a “mutual admiration society in which people pat each other on the back for having a social conscience and nod in agreement through sermons that sound like sappy greeting cards strung together to make us feel like we just got a divine back rub while doing some aromatherapy, drinking herbal tea, and listening to taped sounds of running water (Mark Driscoll in the Radical Reformission).”

3) Receive from culture what is good. Reject what is unbiblical. And redeem what has been marred. We are not anti-cultural. We are pro Jesus, and Jesus came to buy a people from every tribe tongue, and nation. Heaven will be multicultural.

With renewed eyes look at the culture all around you, and engage it with Christ. Use music, movies, television, and fads as a means to evangelize your peers.

4 thoughts on “Galatians 4:12-20 & Become as I, for I as You”

  1. gladiator is only one of the best movies ever made. good choice. i can see where you can see Christ in that. the matrix? not so much. i love maximus.


  2. my favorite implications from the matrix regard sin and truth. people live in this false world and love it, they don’t want to hear the truth because it shatters their worldview. sin blinds and binds. we think we want it, but it offers only a false hope, an unreality. truth frees. it may hurt, but it severs bondage.


  3. I always grin when this subject comes up.Some people feel guilty or looked down upon because they watch secular films, so they feel like they have to “find Christ” in it so as to have justification to give the sanctimonious folks.But I’ve seen part of the first Matrix and I could locate no real Christian symbolism, obvious or otherwise. IMHO, there is none.


  4. david, I know the mentality you are speaking of, and I do not agree with it. i would like to differentiate my view from theirs and expound a bit.i rarely feel guilty for watching a secular film, unless there are obvious reasons i should not be watching that film. but i think you are being too narrow david. all film has spiritual elements, if for not other reason all art reveals a worldview. all art is an expression of man. there is no part of our life that is secular, completely cut off from the sacred. there is a fool right now asking, “what about brushing my teeth, is that an act of worship?” you get your body from GOD, it is not your own, this includes your dental hygiene.i do not think we as Christians have to watch films for this reason only. rather, because we are Christians we should constantly be looking how to relate all of life, our jobs, our families, our hobbies, our art to our greatest passion, JESUS CHRIST. also no offense, but if you cannot see a worldview in the matrix you are blind. i am not saying that the film was written as being symbolic of Christianity. I’m not looking for crosses or baptism. love, humility, war, sacrifice, heroism, you cannot speak on any of these things without betraying a worldview that is either in sync or opposed to a Christian worldview to some degree. they all say something about our culture. i am not saying you cannot watch a film that has a byronic hero, or doesn’t have a Christ figure. rather some of the best films are those that show the hopelessness, depravity, lostness, and emptiness of this life. when i speak of rejecting i hope you realize that i don’t mean throwing a film away, but realizing that the morality portrayed or made sexy must be thrown away. we don’t receive it with an amen. we weep over it as it portrays humanities despair.finally why do we see it as a burden to engage culture with a Christian worldview? this has caused me to enjoy film more not less. i would encourage you to listen to harleman’s podcast on Christianity and culture. you can read or listen to it here.


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