My sister Anna and I hung out at the mall yesterday.
And had coffee.
And also a late night conversation thanks to the coffee. But it was a good conversation and I thought I'd blog part of it.
We were discussing the culture. While shopping, we were looking at music. I noticed that all the covers to the pop CDs were so hopeless. They were dark, they were weird, they were forms of art that had no meaning or form or rule. To the artists, life was not guided by a standard of hope. It seemed scary and dark and depressing. Go check out the music in a store near you...and think about the subtle messages being sent as well as the overt ones. I was shocked.
For a while I've been a little back and forth about culture. I've been caught in the middle between two worlds. Growing up, I was the person who didn't know any band names, celebrity names, pop music, and I didn't know what was trendy or fashionable. And I didn't care. It really didn't bother me to not dress in the height of fashion. I don't think I was ever terribly strange with how I lived or looked. I just didn't spend time worrying about culture. It wasn't important to me.
Now I am much more aware of the culture. It bombards me. And I've really been thinking lately about the subliminal messages that are constantly being sent and stored in my mind and heart. Messages sent through images, through tv, through music, through advertisements. And all this culture has a way of creeping in.
For instance, there's this one particular musical artist. Apparently he's a Christian. But his music is not Christian. They're very catchy, very witty songs that he sings. They're full of fun words and images. But when I listen to them, I notice how depressing the messages are. And it clouds up my world slowly, as I am allowing this to enter my mind and heart. I'm just thinking about how this artist is cool, and how popular he is. And how this song is interesting because of the lyrics. And the sound is pretty cool, too. But slowly the messages build up, clouding my view.
When I was talking with Anna, we were discussing how we are called as Christians to share the light of Christ. We have Christ in us. He is shining in us and through us to light up the room and spread to those around us. Like fire. Christ is on a higher level. Christ should be the most important thing to us. And we were discussing how the message of the culture is like a cloud. And we allow this culture unthinkingly to change us as the messages hit us. We're mindlessly going along, doing our thing, and the culture is growing in us. It's growing in importance to us and influencing us to make choices and decisions about how we live our life. And if we don't stop and evaluate sometimes, the light will be clouded.
We spend a lot of time on the culture. We spend a lot of time learning about the newest thing, or keeping up with what everyone one else is listening to or watching or looking at. And we build the foundation of our life on it sometimes. But the things that are taking up our time are like wood, hay and stubble. And the things of Christ are like gold, silver, and precious stones.
The culture itself may not be bad or evil. The problem is when we let it change us unintentionally, and grow into an importance to us that keeps us from Christ as we allow it to define us and shape us and make decisions in ways that we are unaware.
And I don't think Christ needs the culture. I think I can be the hands and feet of Jesus without being in the know of who's on tv, or whos who in artists.
There's a balance between allowing the culture to shape us and define us, and knowing about the culture we live in as we are ambassadors for Christ. I don't think we should be burying our heads in the sand and avoiding the culture at all costs. But I also think we should be very intentional and cognizant of what we're allowing to enter our minds and what we're allowing to change us. There are so many messages being sent to our hearts every day in our culture. Messages about how we're supposed to look, how we're supposed to act, how we're supposed to live. Messages constantly being sent about how we're supposed to think and what we're supposed to believe. It's overwhelming.
But the message we should be focused on is the message of Christ. Of the hope found in Him. Of the forgiveness and love. And the life we can find in Him. This is the message that should be changing us. This is the message that should be guiding us.
Culturally relevant, all over the world.
1 John 2:15