24 March 2017

just a little bit more

I'm up later than I probably ought to be, but finding some entertainment in watching reruns of a once-popular sitcom. It's not edgy or provocative, which makes it a somewhat pleasant choice for late night hours of relaxation. But what I've noticed throughout the night is that I keep muting the sound whenever a round of commercials comes along. The reason is because this particular station has decided to advertise some of its other programming, which does not really "match" the level of entertainment of the show I'm watching. So, the network has brought me to its channel by broadcasting a program that appeals to a certain level of entertainment value, and then pushes me to watch programming that is edgier in its content.

Now, one could insert a rant about how television (and every other form of media) isn't what it used to be, and one would be right. But I'm already aware of this and navigate it every day without too much difficulty. This is probably true for many people who are mindful of such standards, aside from those who have simply given in to the assumption that accepting the vulgarity of our cultural trends is the only way to engage in modern artistic and entertainment options.

This is the beckoning call of the world around me: to take one step closer each day. Our culture did not change overnight, and what is now considered provocative was once thought of as offensive and will soon be regarded as commonplace. This is the erosion of our selves, what C. S. Lewis called the abolition of man, and it happens just the like geological world around us – one grain of sand at a time. Scientists say that the formation of the Grand Canyon began about 14 million years ago, through the constant flowing and cutting of the Colorado River through the rock. Give me just a little bit more, the river speaks to the earth as it cuts ever deeper into the ground.

Modern resistance to cultural erosion seems to be little in our world today, perhaps indicating a complete surrender. When I first started sketching these thoughts, the live-action Beauty and the Beast was preparing for its release. As it comes to theaters around the country there is a dust up of concern regarding a blatant reference to homosexuality in the film, which would be a first for a Disney production. All-too-quickly these concerns were cast as narrow-minded, over-reactive, extremist positions. And even many within the church were content with admitting that it wasn't much of a focus in the movie, and it could easily be overlooked. Give me just a little bit more...

Another day, another step. And even those who think that such concession will bring about appeasement from those who push progressive agenda cannot look at our most recent social history and admit this has ever been the case. Erosion does not stop with this layer, but rather digs down to the next one. Just a little bit more if you want to be a part of our world.

This is not a new problem for the church, but one that is as old as the church itself. There has always been a tension between believers and their surrounding culture. Our scripture speaks quite directly to this very thing: to those who are seeking to accommodate their faith to the voices of culture who ask for just a little bit more, the voice from heaven cries, "Come out of her, my people" (Revelation 18:4; Jeremiah 54:45).

One voice calls me to conformity, another voice calls me to separation. The two cannot be reconciled. Why, then, do we think that we can live in such a way as to harmonize the ethics of the kingdom with the ethics of the world? Why do we believe that giving just a little bit here and there will not affect our commitment to faith? Why are we so sure of these things when our very Creator tells us that this is not true?

And yet, the erosion continues. We will say that it is the "cost of doing business" in our world today, that we must learn to live with things that don't share our values. I wonder if this cost of cultural inclusion has replaced the cost of the Cross. Our modern Christianity is so quick to surrender to just one more step toward the world, but so resistant to take one more step towards Christlikeness. And that is all that we need to see to understand the state of the church in America today.

"You know, it's not that much ..." is part of the modern creed that undermines kingdom faithfulness in our world.

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