Last week, our book on engaging story, movies, image-bearing and our Creator published and is available here and on Amazon.com in print and Kindle editions. We’ll be posting an excerpt from each chapter to give a little taste of what you can expect (to start with the chapter one excerpt, click here).
Act VI: A Word on Soiling Yourself, Part One – getting your boat out of the harbor
or “punchy and saucy to the glory of God”
Scene 1: Into the Garbage Chute, Flyboy
“Get in there, you furry oaf. I don’t care what you smell!” – Han Solo,Star Wars
Many people don’t simply receive the unfiltered, unabridged “good story of Jesus Christ”. More commonly, the Christian who tells them the story of Jesus adds — like a fast food employee asking “do you want fries with that?” — a greasy and unhealthy accoutrement to “complement” that grace. This is usually a set of “dos and don’ts that “good Christian boys and girls” are marked by, not strictly Bible-centered but usually fraught with culturally accrued norms and fearful reactions for personal piety. They may even reference a scripture in order to support it… but often out of context, malformed, because it’s been plastered on to the man-made ideal.
When it comes to media — movie-going, television-viewing, book reading — there is a wealth of expectations and assumptions that accompany Christian culture… but not actual Christianity. These are often assumptions that deal in some way with content (violence, “cussing”, and sex) or genre (horror, magic, etc).
The answers to these questions aren’t simple, or singular, because all of them deserve inspection instead of a general platitude, so we’ll begin by pulling back some of the blanket principles first, then delve into each of these to treat them with the important consideration they deserve. The first thing we’ll dismantle, however is the erroneous:
“Garbage in, garbage out.”
Has anyone ever said this to you? I’ve heard this phrase tossed out with a scowl by professing “righteous” people, judging others engaging in questionable content. To be blunt, this is an unbiblical saying that should be excised from Christian thought. You won’t find it in the Bible. This phrase deals with the idea that a computer can do only what it is programmed to do; it’s only as good as the data it receives and the instructions it is given. If there is a logical error in software, or if incorrect data is entered, the result will probably be a wrong answer or a system crash.
So… are you a computer? A program that does everything it’s told? Do you have no power of discernment, no defense, no pushback, no filter? Without realizing it, people who say this regarding Christians are actually denigrating God.
The reality is that humans are often nowhere near as good as the data we receive, and we malfunction (sin) despite many good instructions we are given. As we saw in Romans chapter one earlier, we all fail to glorify a God we know full well we should glorify. Our external stimulus is not what makes us sinful – it is our hearts. According to Jeremiah 17:9, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” As Psalm 51 corroborates, it is the sin nature in which we were conceived.
Likewise, it is the power of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts that enables us to stand against the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6).The apostle Paul goes on in this passage to say the Christian’s goal is to put on the armor of God and stand firm in battle, not retreat from the battlefield. To say negative input automatically means bad output is tantamount to saying the Holy Spirit has no power in the heart of the Christian, or that God has not given them a new heart of strength and discernment.