Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:1-2
Monday, May 12, 2014
Armed to the Teeth
This is similar to Paul’s instruction in verse 5 of Philippians chapter 2: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus….” How we think is our protection against being entrapped and controlled by the world and its illusions. If you tell someone these days that listening to certain kinds of music, reading some books, watching some shows on television, or looking at certain kinds of pictures on the internet is a bad idea, you are liable to get accused of legalism. What you are really guilty of is common sense.
If you have a well-developed sense of right and wrong and have come to comprehend what it means to reject self and take up the cross, a great deal of popular culture is going to make you uncomfortable -- at best. When I started getting my life straightened out thirty-plus years ago -- I'm still working on it, you'll know I'm finished, mostly, when you hear I'm dead -- I was kind of an audiophile. I had a big component system with a receiver, cassette deck, turntable, high-quality cartridge, and huge speakers, and I had dozens of albums. I decided it was all too much of a distraction, and I needed some Christmas money, so I sold everything. I remember, though I hated to see a lot of it go, feeling a sense of relief that it would no longer be there to draw me away.
I didn't do it because somebody told me that I would go to hell if I didn't. I didn't do it so I could tell people how holy I was. I didn't even do it because I thought God would love me more. I no longer wanted to live for my own passions and my own ends. I didn't set foot in a movie theater for nearly twenty years. The only show we would watch on television for a while was Dr. Quinn. Having to listen to country music in some place like a restaurant made me almost ill -- some country music still has that effect.
Some stuff I can genuinely enjoy, like Firefly, but I still have to be careful because it is so easy to pick up on the characters' way of thinking. It's not that we don't understand these things are fictional and fantastic. We do, but we also identify with them. We admire courage and boldness, skill and ingenuity. We want those things in our lives, and, similar to what Father Stephen is saying in the linked post, we end up feeding, strengthening and encouraging a self that really just needs to die. We tend to pick up on whatever truth is contained in what is being said or sung or depicted and when we bring it in, some other not so elegant stuff tends to come along for the ride.
To stand strong against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to be identified with Christ, there are some things we may find it necessary to let go, for a time, or forever. If it is pulling us down, we ought to turn it loose. Think like Jesus.