So today, I have a question for you before I start. What are you influenced by? (mentally count how many apply, even if just a little bit)
I am influenced by…
- Social Media/News Articles
- Materialistic things
- Church friends
- Pastor/ Youth Pastor
- The Bible
Okay, so how many things on this list influence you? Almost all of them influence me in some way or another. Some of these are good, and some are obviously bad, and some are a little bit of both. Unfortunately, with a lot of these, we don’t even notice how much they influence us. Today in Sunday School, we talked specifically about how TV and movies alter our perceptions of reality without us even realizing it. And not only that, but they also set our minds on worldly things. When we fill our free time with “mindless” television shows, we don’t realize that our mind is actually absorbing what happens. We might not want to live like that, but ideas get implanted in our minds. I used to love “Gossip Girl” which is basically a bunch of rich kids who do really bad things and their lives turn out great. When we watch shows like this, we see an ideal world with unrealistic consequences to sin, when in reality, we know what we deserve for our sin. Or we see violent or romantic scenes that fill our minds with the opposite of what God wants. Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” God doesn’t want our minds to be filled with impure or violent thoughts; he wants us to follow him in all his goodness.
A few years ago, I stopped watching TV. Not because of what I just said in the last paragraph, but because I didn’t have time for it, and I’d much rather spend my limited free time doing something else. And when I say I don’t watch TV, I mean I watch an episode of a TV show maybe once every few months and maybe a movie or two every month, but ONLY if I’m with friends or family. Because I have been set apart from it for so long, I have an outsider’s perspective and can see just how obsessed Americans are with television. It’s awful to be honest. I can also see how it shapes people’s lives. Even Christians talk about shows that they are obsessed with or “binge-watch” on Netflix. And I’m not trying to condemn TV or those who watch it by any means, but I’m wondering if we spend as much time with the Lord as we spend watching our favorite shows? Because what we spend our time doing and what we think about the most… that is what influences us. And if we don’t set apart time for God, how is he going to be able to work in our lives and influence us?
God wants us to be set apart from this world, and it’s really hard with so many worldly influences around us. Looking at the list at the beginning of the post, most of those things are often going to be negative influences, and that makes it that much more challenging to follow God in an increasingly secular country. If you want to live your life for Christ, you have to spend time with him or you will fall back into living for yourself and worldly pleasures. Galatians 4:9 says, “But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” These worldly thoughts and pleasures enslave us. They aren’t fun in the light of eternity. They temporarily ease our minds and fill us with happiness, but God fills us with eternal joy. We need to realize that what might be popular, even with our Christian friends, might not be so good for our walk with God. Especially if it’s taking the place of our walk with God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” As Christians, WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THE WORLD. It’s really okay if people ridicule us for not doing the things they do because we are on a mission to shine Christ, and we don’t need all that worldly stuff getting in our way.
So, I want to leave you with a challenge today. This might be really hard for some people, but please at least try it. I challenge you to not watch ANY television, Netflix, or movies for a week. I promise you it really isn’t that bad. And if you think that’s a piece of cake and want to take it a step further or if you like a good challenge, also don’t listen to anything but Christian music for the whole week. I’m not telling you that you need to replace your TV time with Bible reading (of course you can if you want, and that’d be GREAT), but at least replace it with something that will positively influence your life. Talk to your siblings or parents or children. Play a board game. Read a Christian book. Do something to make the world a better place. I hope you have a great week and please comment and tell me if you’re going to do the challenge and share this with others so we can see how many people will join us. The more people we have joining us, the easier it will be because our family and friends have the power to positively or negatively influence us too. Will you pray with me?
Father, thank you for creating us with a choice to live a life for you. Please help us to pursue you this week by pushing away some of the negative influences in our lives and filling our time with positive things. Help us to follow your good, pleasing, and perfect will for our lives and set our mind on things above. We love you. In Jesus name, Amen.