Last week, one of my best friends (and a fellow preacher's wife) wrote a post about the types of things we call entertainment. If you haven't checked it out, you can do so here. In that post, she challenged me to take a closer look at the things I watch and listen to and call entertainment. Are those things that would please my God? Are those things that I would feel comfortable watching/listening to with Jesus? Sadly, some of my answers were no.
For those of you who are tech-savvy enough to follow my blog (or at least find it on Facebook), I'm sure you're aware of what Twitter is. For those of you who are not so familiar, it's basically like Facebook---except you can only post 140 character status updates--aka tweets.
One of the reasons Twitter has become so popular is because you can 'follow' your favorite sports teams, athletes, actors, comedians, TV shows, news stations, and friends. There are a ton of celebrities on the site, and following their updates makes you feel like you know them on a personal level.
After reading Emily's post, I went to my Twitter to see who I 'followed'. Knowing my heart had been so hardened by the world, it was no surprise to me that I was following openly gay/lesbian actors/comedians, actors who openly ridicule Christianity/Jesus, and people who use coarse, crude language. Once again, I disappointed myself. How had I let myself start looking so much like the world?
Jesus spoke often about people following Him. I'd like to notice just a few passages to help us refocus our lives on Him.
First, let's look at Matthew 16:24.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.'"In order to be true followers of Jesus, we have to deny ourselves. Living a Christian life is not an easy thing; it requires a considerable amount of self-control and self-denial. When I choose to be buried in baptism with my Lord, I give up self (Rom. 6, Gal. 2:20). My wants and my desires become secondary to that which my Lord requires. Why, then, do we constantly indulge ourselves with crude humor and tolerance of all kinds of things that God deems abominations? Being a true follower of Jesus means walking in His steps. Consider the people you "follow" and ask yourself if they are walking in His steps? If they are not, why are you following them? Are they not leading you away from Him?
Next, let's notice Matthew 10:37-39
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."Jesus tells us that when we put others (even others we are supposed to love) above Him, we are wrong. How much more wrong are we when we put things we are NOT supposed to love ahead of Him? How is it even remotely ok for me to endorse a TV show more than I endorse my Lord? When I promote certain agendas or certain shows known for affairs, homosexuality and the like, how am I promoting my Lord? How am I showing that I put following Jesus ahead of following those things?
Now, look with me at Matthew 19:21. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to the man we commonly call the rich young ruler.
"Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."While there are numerous applications that can be made about material possessions, think about the young man's response especially. He was sorrowful because he considered the things he had and the things he liked to be more valuable than following after Jesus. Is that sometimes how we feel regarding the TV shows and movies we like? I have too much invested (maybe six seasons?) to turn away now. Giving myself wholly to Jesus is too much to ask; it would make me too sad to stop watching that show now.
Finally, I want to look at what is to me the most eye-opening passage of all, John 8:12.
"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'"In order to follow Jesus, we have to get out of the darkness. As intelligent human beings, we know that light and darkness cannot exist in the same space. Why, then, do we think we can follow after Jesus (walk in the light) and hold onto worldly things (darkness) at the same time? The two cannot exist together.
We cannot keep "following" people who use profanity and vulgar language, promote or engage openly in homosexuality or extra-marital sexual activity, and mock the Lord's name/cause, and continue calling ourselves "followers" of Jesus. We are either following Him and forsaking all that would hinder our walk, or we are following after Satan. Romans 6:16-18 tells us that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness, but it is either one or the other, never both.
Today, choose the one that you will follow. I pray that we will not continue following after those whose ways lead to destruction, but will instead choose the narrow path that Jesus trod.