So after months and months of teaching Sunday school, attending my adult small group faithfully and teaching a bible study at work, I've finally been convicted. Yes, I am sad to report that it has taken over a year for me to be obedient to God in this particular area of my life, but the Holy Spirit is persistent and I am glad that He did not consider me a lost cause because of my rebelliousness. Praise God that none of us are lost causes!
Let me explain.
As I have studied the Word and allowed myself to really dig in and try to understand God's will through scripture, I have become hyper-aware of the trash that goes into my brain on a daily basis. TV programming, books, commercials, newspapers and the Internet are filled with images and language that I have no business watching or listening to. My favorite TV program glorifies a lifestyle filled with adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality and lies. When I put it like that, I'm embarrassed that I enjoy the program so much, but I love watching this show! It's entertaining and I love the story lines and the characters.
But (and this is a big but), it's clear in scripture that we should fill our minds with things that are edifying and pure. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 It most certainly does not tell us to watch Grey's Anatomy every week and see what kind of trouble Meredith is getting into.
We have been studying Ephesians in Sunday school and as I was preparing the lesson last week I was particularly struck by these verses. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them." Ephesians 5:1-7
How many times have I laughed at a double entendre or created one of my own? How many times have I allowed a vulgar word to come out of my mouth? How many times have I laughed at a dirty joke? Too many times to count over the course of my life, I'm ashamed to admit. Our society is inundated with coarse humor, impurity and sexual immorality.
When I was a child, a movie that contained even one mild (by today's standards) curse word was immediately banned from the house. My children watch cartoons that reference bathroom functions, sexuality, drugs and cursing. We have become oblivious to it. We have children's books that promote homosexuality as an "alternate lifestyle". The traditional family with a father and a mother is becoming less and less common. The world is falling further and further into the pit of sin that destroys families and churches.
We have become so desensitized to sin, that we no longer recognize it for what it is. That is the danger for Christians. I am not going to cheat on my husband just because I see someone on TV doing it. I'm not going to develop a penchant for cursing simply because I hear it in a movie. But we too often fall into the "it's just entertainment, I would never do that in real life, God knows my heart" line of reasoning that we stumble into sin in spite of our excuses. I become so desensitized to it that I don't always teach my children what is truly right and wrong. I am oblivious to the language in movies when my spirit should be grieved.
So does this mean that we should hop up on our soapboxes and start pointing judgemental fingers at the world around us? Certainly not. We are still called to love and serve for the cause of Christ. We are responsible not just for spreading the gospel to a lost world, but to let Christ shine through us by example. What says more about your faith? That you can have a lengthy conversation around the water cooler about the most recent episode of Grey's Anatomy, or that you have the strength of conviction about what you believe to choose not to watch it?
I realize that we have to live in the world, but we should always strive to not be of the world. We should pray for purity of thought, heart and mind so that we can be effective witnesses. The only way to grow spiritually is to slowly throw off our sinful nature little by little.
So, I am diligently working to remove the plank from my own eye. I have decided that I am going to end my relationship with Grey's Anatomy in the fall. On one level, I am very sad that I will never know what happens to Meredith and McDreamy. Will Burke and Christina ever work things out? Will Izzie and George hook up or will he honor his wedding vows to Callie? Will Alex ever commit and settle down? (Do you see how ridiculously addicted I am to this show?)
On the other hand, it feels good to be obedient. It's a baby step, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a little help from my friends, I feel confident that I can purge all the smut from my life short of becoming a hermit. So, who's with me? Who wants to join the challenge to be actively aware of what you are allowing into your brain? We can't avoid everything, or else we would all be living a more simple life in the Pennsylvania countryside. But we can filter everything that we watch, read and hear through the unfailing truth and purity of God's Word. Do this with me and see how good it feels to be obedient to Him...I promise you will end up with a song of thanksgiving in your heart and praising Him for being so good.
Just as I was finishing up an hour of typing out this entry, and was putting the finishing touches on it, I closed it in edit mode, and the computer went nuts and erased the last 2/3 of my post. This was one of those posts that I had written so well that I was very proud of it. When I saw that all I had left was the first few paragraphs, I was briefly nauseous and then very angry. I looked at my husband with wild eyes of rage and helplessness and said, "I lost all of my work" (an exaggeration, I know) and then "I just spend over an hour typing!" To this he responded, "I know" as in "I noticed that you were ignoring the kids and me while you were happily typing away at your laptop"
Here's the clencher....after all the talk about purity of mind and thought and being led by the Holy Spirit, I called him a name that I will not repeat here. I was so mad that I needed to blame someone, and he was the closest. I slammed the laptop down, and stormed off in a huff ignoring his confused look and attempts to figure out what was wrong.
Come to find out, he didn't mean it like I took it (this happens more than I like to admit) and went as far as to apologize to me because I misinterpreted what he said. As I lay there in bed, I just looked at him instead of instantly begging forgiveness for being such a pain in his behind. Even as he stood there I could see that he was struggling to be a man of God and not put me in my place too harshly. What he came up with was, "You don't need to get so angry and talk like that." I can't tell you how much I loved him in that moment.
Anyway, I hope it is an encouragement to you that even though I can't even practice what I preach for 20 seconds after I type it, I'm not going to give up! This is proof positive that even the best intentions and motives will fall flat if we try to rely on our own strength.