For my Christian brothers/sisters: The Paradox of “Relevance”

Wrote this on a forum, thought I’d share it…

There are several things to bear in mind when it comes to how a Christian should behave concerning secular media or activities. First of all, since we are under the New Covenant and are expected to live in obedience to the Holy Spirit, I don’t believe there is any certain dogma dictating the “appropriate” actions for ALL Christians. Just as the Body is made up of may parts — many diverse Christians with different gifts and abilities — I think that different Christians have different callings pertaining to media or “relevant” living….but the LORD determines this for each one! I also believe that, as Christians have different purposes in the Kingdom, they also have unique strengths and struggles. Obviously, some believers (such as film-makers, musical artists, athletes, inner-city ministers) are probably called to be relevant to our culture, but you can bet that those folks are hit with many struggles as a result of being exposed to it. So hopefully such brothers & sisters have very strong convictions and a clear vision of their ministries. On the flip side, there are many Christians who may be weaker when it comes to resisting temptation (thus they should probably avoid secular media….obviously this is my opinion since they should ultimately follow the Spirit) or those who are called to be radically different for one reason or another…maybe some prophets, intercessors, or foreign missionaries. A lot of “younger” Christians (new to the faith) may struggle with giving into fleshly desires and should be careful about media, but they should not abandon their lost friends…those closest to them are the ones who will best notice the change Christ has made in their lives. See…it’s different depending on your specific area of ministry or your level of strength. Thus, I don’t think there is one clear, cut, and dry standard for all of us. However, the LORD does have several very clear things to say about this:

>No matter where you fit into the Body, you are supposed to be set apart and holy, as a light in the darkness. This concept is all over the New Testament. Be IN this world, but not OF it. So, for example; if you’re called to be a Christian rock star, know how the industry works and what attracts lost people (so you can share the Gospel), but don’t just follow trends to be popular.

>”Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12). Moderation is very important. Remember that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Don’t purposefully let trash into your body or your mind (see Philippians 4:8). If you do, not only will you be dishonoring the LORD (we were created to glorify Him!), you will negatively affect your witness. As the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”

>Remember Paul’s example of meat in Romans 14 and 1 Cor. 8: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” You might feel no conviction about something you do, but someone else may be uncomfortable with it or might see it as wrong, whether due to a tradition or their own convictions. ” Avoid causing a controversy among brothers & sisters, as that will just become a distraction from “the main thing”: the Lord. [This opens the door to another whole topic concerning how denominations should probably be done away with, but until then, we CAN get along peaceably while ministering and glorifying Yahweh together. But I won’t go there right now.] It also may be that you can partake of something moderation, but another brother may have struggled with addiction or other sin related to it…don’t do that around him (for example: drinking alcohol).
Romans 14: 13-23:
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

>Something you do or are surrounded by may be inherently OK (refer back to Romans 14:14), but if it is perverted or causes you to sin, STOP IT (Matthew 5:28)!

> I think it all boils down to intent. It is not by what a man specifically does, but by the condition of his heart, that He is judged by the LORD. As per Romans (pretty much the whole book…) we are free from the old law, and are under the New Covenant. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). What REALLY matters is WHY you do what you do. I think it’s a good practice to consider anything that’s questionable in your life, and determine whether you do it to further the Kingdom or if it’s just for your own enjoyment.

>Please do NOT use “being relevant” as an excuse to do whatever you want! If you claim that you listen to certain secular music or watch certain TV shows “so that [you] can relate and minister to [your] lost friends”, WE BETTER SEE YOU DOING THAT! How many friends have you led to Christ by keeping up on your “Grey’s Anatomy”?

Obviously, sin is a struggle we deal with even as Christians (read Paul’s rant in Romans 7). The crazy thing is … an important pillar of the Gospel is the existence of absolute truth. So it’s funny how our freedom brings so many plaguing questions about what’s right or wrong…or what “just depends”. Essential to remember is the fact that these questions are natural…but that means they may be from the flesh, the old man, which can distract us from our relationship with the LORD and from doing our work in the Kingdom. Yes, I believe that it is beneficial and vitally important to point out and discuss harmful things that American Christians don’t often think about, such as gluttony, lust, materialism, self-reliance, ignoring the poor, etc…but this should be done to raise awareness and NOT for the sake of condemnation or argument. Christians who argue with other brothers & sisters are playing right into the adversary’s game to destroy unity in the Body. Anyway..
What was the solution to this problem spoken of in Romans 7? It was given immediately following in Romans 8: Life by the Spirit!
Yes, it’s important to consider righteous living, but don’t dwell on it too much…again I say “keep the main thing the main thing”! Part of the Holy Spirit’s function is to make us continually more like Christ, right?
Well consider this: Yeshua was seen as an absolute radical with a revolutionary message of love that was so far removed (and seemingly contradictory to) anything the Jews had ever heard. He expressed His knowledge of the “ins and outs” of the government, the law, and the Pharisees, AND He hung out with whores, tax collectors, lepers, and beggars. I’d say that earns Him the “relevant” tag. BUT He lived a perfect and blameless life without sin. Yeah, people still said all sorts of trash about him (calling him a drunk and a heretic), but we know His heart is pure and thus were His intentions.
Obviously He had the perfect balance between relevance and holiness, and is the prime example for how we should live. Quit worrying yourself to death about the “rules” and instead concentrate on Spirit-filled living! Listen to the LORD and obey Him. Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and through this obedience He will shape your heart and your life to be more like Christ. You know that it’s not by works that we’re saved, anyway…but by grace through faith.

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