I was thinking about a story that I have used in sermons on several occasions. It’s the story about the family where the kids wanted to go see the latest, greatest blockbuster hit that Hollywood had put out. The problem was that it was rated as PG-13. Dad’s rule had always been “no profanity, no violence.” But the kids really wanted to go, and they continued to badger their father. “But Dad,” they said, “it only has a little bit of violence and only a few bad words.” Over and over again, Dad would explain the rules, but the kids just wouldn’t give up. “Come on, Dad. It’s the best movie ever, and all our friends are going to go see it. If we don’t see it, everyone will make fun of us. We won’t be cool like they are. And, Dad, there is only a little profanity.” When Dad had heard all that he wanted to hear, he decided to teach them a lesson. He decided to make a batch of his special triple chocolate fudge brownies. The kids loved them. The aroma of the brownies filled the house. The kids’ mouths were salivating; they could hardly wait to get their hands on those brownies. When dad took the brownies out of the oven, it was like a party atmosphere. Dad placed them beautifully on the plate and carried them to the table, but before he sat them down, Dad said, “Before you touch these brownies, I want to talk to you a minute.” So the kids all sat down around the table. They could hardly wait. Dad began to talk. “You know how much I love you all, and I know that you cannot understand why I won’t let you go see this movie. You say it’s only a little profanity and a little violence, and that little amount couldn’t possibly affect you in any way. So I decided to add a little something special to these brownies. I only added a little, so it shouldn’t really affect them at all, but I did it because I love you.” “What is it?” the kids all asked. “Dog poop,” Dad said, “but it’s only a little bit.” Needless to say, the brownies were untouched that day.
For too long, we as Christians have taken the mentality that a little bit of the world’s culture can’t hurt us. I know this to be true because I have been guilty as well. So we listen to the music that celebrates immorality – illicit sex, drugs, violence against women – but it’s just a little bit. Certainly it can’t hurt us. We watch television shows and movies with just a little nudity, sexual situations, profanity, and violence, but it’s only a little, so what’s the big deal. We read books and magazines with similar plot lines as our music and movies, but they are just mildly pornographic. And what is even sadder is that we celebrate the lives of the musicians, movie stars, and authors that continue to push the envelope and are actually promoting the destruction of the moral and ethical foundations of our society. “But I don’t do it every day,” you say. “It can’t possibly harm me.” Jesus said that only a little leaven is all it takes. In the Bible, leaven is usually equated with sin and evil, and Jesus said that it is our responsibility to remove it from our lives.
I know that this is not a popular sentiment; I’ve already been reminded of that in the past several days. When my wife offered her opinion on Facebook about the sadness that gripped her because so many people were celebrating the life of a man who had added nothing to the moral and ethical foundation of our society, she was rebuked by Christians who thought it offensive. In my opinion, the only thing wrong with that post was that she didn’t go far enough. I wanted to ask if these people had truly listened to the words of the songs that were being sung, or if they had ever watched one of his sexually charged concerts.
When we taught our children right from wrong, Sonya and I would sometimes ask them, “Would you want Jesus watching/listening to/attending this with you?” Maybe we need to start thinking along those lines as adults, too. We tend to forget what the apostle Paul had to say about this, and even though he was referring to sexual sins and differentiates them from sins outside the body, I believe there is a connection.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (NKJV)
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
We were cautioned by a wise friend using a quote from George Bernard Shaw: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” This is truly wise counsel from a dear friend. But having raised pigs as a teenager, I know that there is a time that you take the pig out of the sty and clean it up. Some of you know that takes place before you send the pig to the slaughterhouse. However, for the purpose of my blog, let’s put that in a little better light. You take the pig out of the pen to clean it up so that its life can be redeemed as it accomplishes its ultimate purpose. Sounds like a good description of the salvation process, and our calling as ministers. Yes, it is Jesus that does the cleaning, but as His representative on Earth and as the leader of the church, pastors must do everything in their power to teach the truths of God’s Word, to stand against sin, and to help people know how to live the Christian life. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6:1 that this is the responsibility of every Christian to restore with a spirit of gentleness one who is overtaken in any trespass. That is my heart. That is my calling. That is my goal.