Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
1 john 2:15-17
"Hey, we're going to go see _________ at the movie theater on Friday night. Want to go with?"
The older I get, the more that question is one that is met with internal conflict and less with joie de vivre or devil-may-care attitude (when in all actuality, the Devil really does care!). I'm more cautious now and am concerned with what types of moving pictures and dialogue I'm allowing into my head and heart.
When I was a high schooler, I only followed the rating. If it's R-rated, then I know I can't go. Mom and Dad won't let me, and I'll get in trouble if I go see this movie. So, of course, my intake was more limited. That time period also marked the beginning of the PG-13 rating which didn't push the limits then nearly as much as it does now (in case you hadn't noticed, in the twenty-first century PG-13 is the new R). So I was usually pretty safe with any movie below an R rating.
Or … was I?
I remember some films that I watched back then that, had the "adult me" had a short conversation with the "teenager me," I probably would have thought twice about seeing them. It never occurred to me to consult a review of a film before going to the theater. All that mattered was the rating, who was starring and what the story was about. With those few bits of info, I was ready to make an "informed" decision.
These days, I know too much. I read about films long before they hit theaters, and I learn what kind of objectionable content is going to be at play. And this is where the epic battle sequence within begins.
You know those type of scenes. Think of some of the greatest battles ever portrayed on film, and you'll get the picture (Saving Private Ryan, The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart—and maybe some of the Star Wars movies which somehow haven't aged so well, but I still love them).
Swords and shields, tanks and machine guns, force fields and light sabers—they're all making a metaphorical racket inside of me when contemplating, Is this movie too "of the world" and is it against God or righteousness? During these moments, it's truly a fight for me. For my allegiance. To whom do I belong? And who will win?
As I strive to grow in my faith and allow the work of the Holy Spirit to transform me, to correct my wayward thinking and to propel me toward paths of righteousness, I have to decide what I should or should not let invade my life (rom. 12:2)
Will this film play a part in the renewing of my mind? Will I learn something from it that I can apply to my life? Will it draw me closer toward or lead me away from God? Or am I being too strict and need to recognize that some movies are pretty much harmless to my Christian walk?
At the end of the day, each of us must decide for himself or herself what is acceptable for viewing and what is God's will for our personal cinematic consumption. Whether it's choosing which films to watch or any other life decisions, it's when the epic battle sequence within ceases that we know we have real problems.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Yes, life goes by very fast. But we need to pause. We need to ponder. We need to see what's going on inside of our hearts and minds. Take some time today to think about what recent life choices you have made (whether that's what movies you've watched or otherwise). How did you arrive at your final decisions? Were you conflicted? Should you have been?