The following is the monologue from a radio show I hosted on April 1, 2017.
Thank you for joining us today. I’m Pastor Jon Shishko. Today, we address an issue that confronts all of us all the time. Did you watch something last night? What did you watch? What did your kids watch? As Christians, what sort of TV, movies, and Broadway plays should we be watching? “Rated R”….. “TV-MA”….. HBO ….Do these stand for “OFF LIMITS TO CHRISTIANS?” What about the Christian-themed movie The Shack? It is Christian-themed, it deals with God and forgiveness – and it’s in theaters right now. You would think that means churches and youth groups should be flocking to theaters in droves to watch it. But, do a quick Google search, and you’ll find that many Christians see it as full of lies and heresy. What about the number one box office hit, Disney’s newest Beauty and the Beast, in which Gaston’s companion Lefou, a man, is openly attracted to other men? If you take a moment to scan through your Facebook feed or read through various Christian Blogs, you’ll find conflict, disagreement, and not a little hysteria around the question – To Watch – Or Not To Watch? What are we Christians to do?
Once again, we find that God, through His Word, delivers us from the confusion that surrounds us. And yet, He doesn’t do so simplistically. From God’s Word, it seems us Christians are often asking the wrong question. To Watch – or Not to Watch? That’s not the question. Or at least, not always. Certainly there are some things no Christian should ever watch. But, Jesus Christ Himself makes clear that part of Christianity is being thoroughly in the world without in anyway being of the world. In John 17, Jesus Christ’s longest recorded prayer, Jesus prays for His people saying, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Why is Jesus praying for us in this way? Because He knows we will always be surrounded by things that are “of the world”. He knows that His people will constantly experience a tension – a difficulty – asking – what should we watch? What should we listen to? Is this appropriate for me as a Christian? Is this ok for us to go to? Is this alright for my children?
And yet, we find Jesus asks even more of us! In Luke 16 He says, “The sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” You see, Jesus wants us “in the know” about what’s going on in the world that we’re in but not of. What beliefs are circulating? What does “the world” think? What do our neighbors and co-workers think is good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or intolerable?
Another place Scripture informs us on this topic is the example set by St. Paul in the book of Acts. In Acts 17, Paul is in Athens, surrounded by nothing by idols, idolaters, and idolatry. Paul found this perplexing, but he didn’t retreat and hide from all that was wrong with Athens. Instead, he went straight to the heart of the city – the marketplace – what we would call a mall – and there he worked to understand Athens more fully. Then, he preached to that pagan world without quoting a single scripture verse – but instead by using pagan poetry and references to idolatrous things he had observed in pagan Athens. Paul learned their culture without becoming a part of their culture, and Jesus Christ would have us do the same in our day and age.
So, instead of only asking the overly simplistic question – TO Watch or not to Watch? Let’s work to listen to Jesus and to live like the Apostle Paul – realizing we are Christians. Realizing we, like Jesus, are of God. Realizing we are in a world that we often, and often vehemently, disagree with. Realizing that Disney has never been in the business of producing Christian movies, and most of all realizing that Jesus Christ doesn’t treat us like dumb thoughtless fools – but instead like image bearers of God, redeemed to hold every thought captive to Jesus Christ – which means we realize that as Christians were are not always asking TO watch or Not to Watch but also, and even more frequently….How? How Should we watch this? How should we watch this show or that movie? What does it look like to watch a movie to the glory of God? How, as Christians, should we watch The Shack? How, as Christians, should we watch Beauty and the Beast? How should we then watch?
Listen to the whole show! Follow me on twitter at @jon_shishko. Message me there if you want the recording of this show.