As I wrote in the last article, what we watch and listen to impacts our thoughts, and thoughts are the basis for our actions. This is Paul writes to, Hold every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5-6). How do we go about evaluating what we place into our heads? In this article, I will not cover every fine detail of the things to look for, but rather, give the overarching principle.
In the sermon Media: Friend or Foe, Stuart McAllister says there are two common errors in the church that we need to avoid. The first is uncritical involvement. Uncritical involvement means that we never give any thought to what we view or why. For the person uncritically involved in entertainment, he or she will watch anything, giving no attention to what that material will do to their thoughts. Media is purely about entertainment and nothing more. To the uncritically involved, entertainment itself does not impact the soul.
The second error to avoid is total abstinence from all things entertainment that are not produced from a Christian viewpoint. These people will see only evil in the products in this world. They cannot take pleasure in a secular movie or non-Christian music. Generally speaking, these people will only engage themselves in Christian materials, casting off all other entertainment as tainted with evil. The amount of time spent in entertainment is not impacted with the view as some will engage in a lot, and others little.
Again, both of these views are errors. In the first view, we fail to see how media impacts our thoughts, and by extension, our life. This is caused by a failure to apply the Word of God to our life in the area of entertainment. In the second view, we fail to see that good can indeed come from non-Christian sources. Indeed, if man is created in the image of God, then even unredeemed man can arrive at lovely works of art. Let us learn to appreciate what is good art, and cast out the bad art. To this end, I submit two guideposts to steer the way to understanding what is good and what is not.
Guidepost of Legality
Paul writes that all things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12). We need to understand our freedom in Christ, but also mix it with wisdom that 1.) Not everything is good for us, and 2.) Some things can be addictive. When applied to entertainment, if we are focused on that which entertains us, we are beginning to engage in idolatry and becoming a slave to that pleasure. The guidepost of legality is to ensure we are not becoming legalistic by banning everything that does not come from Christian sources.
Guidepost of Examination
Paul also writes examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Indeed, we do not have a free license to sin, or to even engage in evil things, which includes putting horrible things in from of our eyes. David wrote that he would not place anything worthless in front of his eyes (Psalm 101:3). We need to examine our entertainment to see if it has value. Is it good, lovely, pure, noble (Philippians 4:8)? If it is not, we need to cast it out. It is not worth polluting our life over pleasure when there are many more options open for when entertainment is justified.
Remember to keep focus on serving and pleasing Christ. Use these two guideposts to determine what types of input goes into our heads.