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.