“We’ve all been MTV’d. We grew up with pop drivel invading every dark corner of our media-saturated lives: The glowing box in the living room showcasing ideal families in ideal homes living ideal lives. The car stereo blaring soul-crushing top 40-isms during rush-hour traffic. Newspapers foretelling inescapable doom and irremediable despair without any hope of salvation or redemption. Magazines twaddling the latest gossip about such and such and what’s his name.
Our collective brains have soaked up the meaningless muck and are now waterlogged with platitudes and cultural niceties and the false expectations of the way life should be.”
Defend Yourself Against the Lies
First of all, that was an awesome rant. Second, we all know he’s right. We know (hopefully) that most of what we spend our time doing is meaningless. We spend time doing meaningless things, so our goals are nonexistent. As a result, we wallow in our own self pity, looking for some sort of significance in all the wrong places.
We must guard ourselves against the lies and inherent evil in our culture. Constant bombardment by commercialism means we need to play some defense. Millburn writes,
“If someone continuously repeats a lie, does it eventually become the truth? Is it not safe to leave our homes without our credit cards? Is the realest thing in our lives a carbonated aluminum can of sugar?”
The truth is, someone continually repeating a lie does not make it true. But, if we don’t tell ourselves it’s a lie, eventually it can become our truth.
And this is scary.
Just look at the recent wave of change in cultural opinion on gay marriage. Researchers are calling it the swiftest change in popular opinion on a social issue in the history of our country. Regardless of your feelings on the issue, you can’t say that you are unaffected by the cultural campaigns being waged by both sides. Gay characters on TV, President Obama endorsing same sex marriage, Mitt Romney opposing it, North Carolina making gay marriage illegal. All of these inform our opinions in some way. Get real with yourself for a minute and ask how much of your opinion on gay marriage is formed by the Bible, and how much is formed by culture.
Opt-out of Pop Culture
My pastor often says that people don’t plan on wrecking their lives, they just don’t plan not to. This is relevant here. From the essay,
“We never opted-in to pop culture. It already had us in its sinister clutch at birth, an invisible umbilical cord that no one ever thought to cut.”
While we never opted-in, we can certainly opt-out. And that’s exactly what I suggest.
It’s critical to be intentional about removing pop culture-isms from our inner thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s extremely valuable to be aware of culture so we can better understand and engage the world in which we live for Christ.
But it’s entirely different to be aware of pop culture than to let it inform our thinking.
Free Your Mind
As a thinking Christian, we are to be something different entirely. The things that entrance the world around us are not to hold the same power over us. If you look, act, talk, and think the same as every non-Christian you know, are you really a Christian? Paul would say no.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 MSG
We can’t afford to let ourselves be blown about by the cultural head winds. Your eternity, and that of those around you, is at stake. I would sum it up much like Millburn did:
“Instead, as a culture, we must take responsibility. We must to fix ourselves. We must create the disciplines necessary to be alive in this complex world. We must become aware of what’s going on around us so that ultimately we can be aware of what’s going on inside us. Only then will we be able to know what’s truly important.”
I would add we need to be more aware of what’s going on in the Bible. All of the above is important, but it’s worthless apart from allowing God to inform us of His moral will. As Christians, we should ultimately become more familiar with what’s going on in the Bible that what’s going on in pop culture.
Is it hard for you to free yourself from the clutches of pop culture?
Discuss in the comments.