Netflix and Being Conformed to the World

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I love a good movie. There are so many classics that just never get old.

Last week I took my husband to an Asian restaurant for happy hour. Let’s just say we made the most of the half priced sushi. After we got home, we hunkered down to watch The Parent Trap. Neither of us had seen it in years, and we loved it. I laughed my head off. (I’m not sure who came up with those figures of speech, but it seemed appropriate. Don’t try to imagine it though. Too late. I already see myself hanging on to my head as it levitates with each laugh. And suddenly, it’s gone. Scary business, laughter is.)

Ok, moving on.

The Parent Trap reminded me why I love a lot of the older classics. The humor was clean, but so funny, and the plot was great.

A few days later, we had our fabulous neighbors over for dinner. Classic movies came up in discussion. “Now days, if there’s not a sex scene, it’s not a good movie.”

That quote got me thinking. Bear with me, this is not going where you think it is.

Fast forward to this week, I’ve been browsing through Netflix trying to find good shows and movies. My hubby and I like our crime dramas. 🙂

I started watching four different shows all with varying settings and plot. Within the first episode, (sometimes not even 5 minutes in) there were sexual references or entire sexual scenes.

Things like, “Then you’re engaged, you pop the champagne, you drink a toast, you have sex on the kitchen floor. Don’t have sex on our kitchen floor.” Or, “He won’t even spank me in bed for fun. He’s all like,’Honey did that hurt?’ and I’m like like, “C’mon, let me have it, you pansy.”

A girl, just fresh out of a breakup is searching for an apartment. First scene is her explaining to potential landlords the breakup scene. Naked under her coat, she comes home to her boyfriend, prepared to role play a sexy teacher from his fantasies. In the dramatic, albeit lame spectacle, she turns around and sees another women beside her shocked, immediately ex boyfriend. Next scene.

First episode of crime show: Extremely graphic lesbian scene. But to be fair, maybe not much more graphic than an average straight sex scene. Plus repetitious aggressive sexual references and sexual profanity. The show was set in a prison, so I’m guessing it is pretty close to reality though.

The fourth wasn’t entirely crude. A young teen shows up at her dads house wanting a signature for emancipation so she can be free from the foster system. In shock, the dad makes a comment (in front of the daughter he just met) that he thought his high school girl friend had “taken care of it.” After assessing the situation, he calls up his ex girlfriend, “You know that one time we did it…” She hangs up.

Ok, this is all pretty depressing. I promise I am not about to go on a rant about the evils of the world, and urge you all to lock yourselves in your bedroom to pray and protect yourselves from influence. That is not how I work my life.

But facts first. It’s true, sexual perversion is everywhere. If it’s hard for me to find a show or movie that doesn’t have crude sexual humor within the first few scenes, you know culture is riding a sinking boat.

The thing is, I don’t think that stuff is funny. A rare tasteful bit of sexual humor is fine, (in context and respect) but if a movie can’t be considered “awesome” or “funny” or “classic” without sexual references constantly being blasted, it’s not cool.

The F-bomb in every other sentence is not witty, is not funny, and should not be considered entertainment.

So, there it is.The facts. Last night when I was thinking of all this, I suddenly got this mind picture and clarity in my heart. I don’t know how to translate images into words, but here is what comes out when I try.

It’s been said, “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.” This is true.

Likewise, separation is no substitute for infiltration.

The world is crazy, I get it. But so is God. Girl, he is CRAYsy.

He is not scared of dirt. Why are we? He touched the untouchables and remained clean. And apparently, the same God life is inside of us. So why are we scared to get dirty?

Christians are supposed to believe that greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.

The elusive “world.” I used to hate that word. You know why?

Somehow in all the right sounding words and echos of quoted scripture, I got the mixed message, “Be separate from the world, but get the world saved.”

Cliche statements like, “love the sinner, but hate the sin” fell on my ears like clanging symbols. It baffles me that such a statement would be necessary. Is our love not to be so radical that a person who sins can’t help but be overcome by love, regardless of any disagreement with the message we carry?

Unbelievers should be clamoring to be loved on by us, (They did Jesus) but if you take an honest look at the general sinful world, Christians are perceived to be the most unloving, judgmental people out there. Possibly because many of us value an agenda over simply loving because He first loved us.

Come on, love is the crux of the gospel. Without it, there’s no point in wanting people to “repent.” Honestly, there’s not. People can smell agendas and projects and motives. But love is just love, plain and simple, and it stays regardless of behavior.

Behavior modification was a big one.

I don’t understand how one can see the world as the death omen to be avoided, yet be consumed by love for its people. It is impossible.

See, I was getting the unintentional command to stay away from people and things. The Bible makes it very clear that we battle not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers, yet I was supremely spiritually unaware of any spiritual power. My focus was consumed with separatism, which ironically made me consumed with the physical things I was trying to get away from.

I have a very fond, clear memory of my grandpa reading Romans 12 to me out of his thick, black Bible. His slow, steady voice read, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The “world” to me, was an untouched land of secularism. Movies, books, clothes, customs,etc. Everything secular was anti righteousness. (Of course, there were gray areas like secular food, secular sky, secular restaurants. That path is rocky and inconsistent.)

But I tried. I filled my life with “Christian” material. We all know, that is never enough. There is always another “T” to cross, another influence to eliminate, another wall to build, another interpretation to apply. Yet the emptiness only grew. Ironically, in my quest to be separate from “the world,” I was consumed with worldliness.

I grew up my entire life hearing the cold words warning against the influence of the world, but you know what I discovered? The world was in me all along.

The world is not a unit, a people group, or even a culture. It is not physical the same as righteousness is not a smell, taste, sound, or image. But both look like something.

The world is the flesh manifested. It is an agreement, an anti Christ spirit that says, “I can measure up on my own.” It is the illusion that abstaining from secular things and putting on our bodies, our minds and our souls things that appear opposite of secular, we will be like God, who requires righteousness. This is the very epitome “worldliness.” Because no matter how “good” we appear on the outside, God sees the heart.

Righteousness is not a goal, a prize, or good appearance. It is found in the messiest places. Righteousness is a gift we receive in covenant with Him.

Unbelievers can’t afford to live another minute thinking that righteousness is simply not doing the bad things God told us not to do. We can’t sell a gospel that we can suck up to. That is elementary, and we live in a New Covenant. We are either in covenant with a Person or we have a crush on a legacy.

Remember this verse? “Be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

(Interestingly, that verse follows the instructions not to be yoked with unbelievers.)

There is healthy tension in the Bible. See below.

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

You’ll get yourself into trouble if you understand the Bible without tension and context. So back to not touching the unclean thing. Obviously literal separation and “abstinence” from unbelieving influence and contact is impossible and not balanced with the nature of Christ who touched the untouchables on a very regular basis.

With spiritual understanding it is clear the battle is not a physical one. It is spiritual.

If the battle is not earthly, isn’t it misplaced energy to fight earthly influence? Fighting the wrong battle only gives the enemy more ground in our susceptible hearts.

To be yoked is “to become joined securely, linked, united by a bond.” In other words: COVENANT. Don’t be in covenant with anything but Christ and those He inhabits. HELLO. How much clearer can it get?

So all this energy poured into literal abstinence and definitions and application and confusion is pointless and wasted! The world is not people; it is a covenant with the wrong kingdom.

Don’t be in covenant with the world. Be transformed with renewed minds unto the will of the Father. Be in covenant with His heart and go into the world freeing captives and lavishing His heart on them.

You want to avoid worldliness? Become addicted to God’s presence. Become yoked to Him. Be in covenant with Him. It is a gift imparted to those who believe.

So that is my thoughts following a Netflix experience.

Culture makes it pretty clear when it comes to messages. But culture is created by its people, and people create demand.

So, what do you want?

Do you know that what you have is more influential than the voice of a culture without it?

Do you know that you are leaven? (yeast) When you are strategically infiltrated in culture, the whole loaf will rise. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like I said, separation is no substitute for infiltration.

You choose what you feed on. If something tears you down, stop it. But above all else, be in love. Love God above everything. Love people extravagantly. Infiltrate His heart and will into society. Heaven is here.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of it is in the law. Christ defeated death, and you have overcome with Him. Gird up your legs, and get out there. He who fears has not been perfected in love. Perfect love casts out fear. God is love. He is in you. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

-Brenda Kanagy

 

 

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