“But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live as Jesus did.”
– 1 John 2:5-6
I tried not to think deeply into the meaning of the verses, because frankly it scares me. What will I have to give up, in order to live in Him? I wish I could say that I am willing to give up anything for my faith, my relationship with God, but frankly I do not think I could. For instance, I am not sure if I could relinquish my entertainment choices. This might seem like a small matter. After all, it is just entertainment. Why do I need to give up my media choices? Isn’t there bigger issues at stake?
I thought so too, but as I read the Bible study What is Love by Kelly Minter I kept thinking about my viewing choices. One prompt in the study had me squirming. It started with “Perhaps you’re currently fostering sin in your life, and you are desperate for rescue.” Instead of going straight to possibly more troubling issues in my life, I immediately thought, “Why am I feeling guilty for watching that show? I am definitely over thinking this. I need to think about other problems. . .” but then I read 1 John 2:3-4.
“And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God, but doesn’t obey God’s commandments that person is a liar and is not living in truth.”
Reality check! Am I liar because I choose to watch and hear questionable content? It is just a little. I can skip over the bad parts, I tell myself.
Kenny, the character in The Watsons Go to Birmingham (a book I highly recommend) once said, “It seems like you don’t just end up in trouble but that you kind of ease yourself into it. It also seems like the worse the trouble is that you get into, the more steps it takes to get there. Sort of like you’re getting a bunch of little warnings on the way. . . .” Kenny’s trouble was that he was slowly walking into water that he wasn’t supposed enter into. One kid had been sucked into a whirlpool and drowned, but Kenny knew he would be different, smarter, stronger.
I assumed I was strong too, and I really wanted to believe that I could have a perceptive eye and discerning heart, because after all I was only watching and hearing, not doing. My excuse was that all good stories have flaws, and you can learn from people’s mistakes. The only problem was when I watched one good movie or television show I yearned for more of the same. I began to give up my standards for better stories and better characters. However, there was one small problem. Call me hyper sensitive, but my thinking began to evolve. It wasn’t over night, but pretty soon I was forming compromises for behaviors I knew were wrong. I began to yearn and think about things I shouldn’t care about. Occasionally, I justified my own selfish actions, because who I was kidding? I needed to take care of me!
A few weeks ago someone asked me point blank, “What are your passions? What are the things you love?” I listed off several hobbies and I never mentioned my faith once. I was scared of being considered intolerant or fanatical because of confessing my relationship with Christ. Afterwards, I felt ashamed like Peter after his denials of knowing Jesus. The incident made me wonder “Are my media choices effecting who I am?”
Kenny waded into deep water that lead straight into a whirlpool with no apparent exit. Thankfully, Kenny’s brother was there to rescue him from the whirlpool. I have a Savior too. The previous week has been a reminder of his sacrifice because of His love for the world, me. He has done so much to show his love, and yet I find myself reluctant to give up my desires and comforts.
Do I really love Jesus? Because if I do say I love Him, then sacrifice is a benefit for the God who loved me first. Maybe listening to His Word and cutting back on my screen time is the first step to loving Him more.