We’re blessed to live, especially at this time of year, in the beautiful foothills of Mt Washington. Breathing in that cool, clean mountain air is a refreshing, invigorating experience! People who live in metropolitan areas such as LA, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC, often bemoan the condition of their air. The blanket of smog that frequently covers their city pollutes it, making it impure and dangerous to breathe. They know that inhaling this impure air can cause your lungs to blacken, and coughs to develop. In general, it’s bad for your health!
I often wonder why we, as Christians, aren’t so concerned about our “spiritual” atmosphere. James 1:27 gives us the recipe for “pure” religion. “To look after the orphans and widows in their distress. . .” This usually gives us no problem, but we somehow slide quickly over something that James regards as equally important to “pure” religion. That is, that we are to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This clearly states that it is OUR responsibility, no one else’s. We may, individually, be able to do precious little about smog, but we can, and are commanded, to control our spiritual atmosphere. What are we watching? What are we listening to, reading, and laughing at?
On more than one occasion during our years in ministry, I’ve found myself in the position of sharing some rather unpopular viewpoints on this subject. One that I remember well, concerns a widely acclaimed Oscar-winning movie of several years ago. It came with rave reviews from my husband’s teaching colleagues, and even from some of our Christian friends and parishoners. The film happened to be playing in a local theater where we were vacationing, John and I, along with our preteen daughter, ventured out to see it, expecting to be entertained. After a multitude of profanities, graphic violence, and sexual explicitness, we walked out, less than thirty minutes into the movie. As I shared our experience with several other Christians, I was challenged with, “You should have stayed. . . it had a really good message!” This general consensus surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. You see, the more we allow ourselves to be polluted by “a little profanity here,” “a smattering of violence there.” sexually explicit scenes in an otherwise “pretty good police show,” and the ever present questionable reading material and music, the less impact the more blatant material will have on us. It saddens me to see a popular show that started out to display great dancing, now a vehicle to bring “soft porn” into our living rooms. And it’s not only accepted, but is anticipated and welcomed, as the viewing audience continues to become desensitized.
Isn’t that the way pollution works? “Smog” obstructs our view, making it difficult for us to see clearly, and damages our health. When we allow ungodly influences to invade our spiritual atmosphere, we start to lose our sense of discernment and our spiritual health is at risk.
Yes, the entertainment pollution is all around us. It’s what the entertainment industry and its sponsors offer us. Why? Because we watch it. It’s like inviting the enemy into our living room every day. A friend once made an interesting observation that I have never forgotten. She said, “We entertain ourselves with sin.” Thought-provoking, isn’t it? But we don’t have to. There is a little button on that remote that can exorcize that “entertainment demon” right out of the room in a nanosecond. It’s a choice. There really are other selections if we look for them. I have a rating I try to impose on my viewing, reading, and listening. It’s the P4 rating:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” (Philippians 4:8)
Well, we may not have remained to discover the “redeeming” qualities of the acclaimed film, but we viewed enough to discern that it was not wholesome according to God’s standards. You know, I do not have to do drugs to know that it is wrong, nor do I have to participate in a deviant lifestyle before making a decision that it is not godly. God’s standards are clearly spelled out in His Word and WE are to keep ourselves from being “polluted” by the world. “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. . .” (Psalm 101:3)
Gleanings from James 1::27? The more we expose ourselves to the pollution of the world, the harder it is for us to breathe . . . that is, to inhale the Word of God and to exhale it by holding up His standards.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As the familiar song says . . .
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER!
That’s the glorious view from here . . .