Today, I saw The Greatest Showman.
For weeks, I’ve been bombarded by the barrage of trailers and posts about it. Then I stumbled upon the soundtrack. Suddenly I found myself swept away into its world. I didn’t even know the story, but the music was so powerful and I just had to see it.
After a few days, I realized I had a problem. My interest had turned to obsession as the music played in my head nonstop, taking my thoughts and emotions captive.
I’d become enslaved to the melodies of some movie I hadn’t even watched.
This music was like a drug, and it didn’t start or stop with the music. It began with the constant prompting of social media, then came the music, before finally I got to watch the movie I was so desperately wanting–even needing–to see.
We’ve Got a Problem
No doubt, many of the people making this stuff are strategizing to get us addicted and obsessed. After all, that’s how they make money. And, clearly, it works.
So why do we watch or listen to this stuff?
We enjoy being entertained. We also enjoy the emotional pull of well-crafted stories and songs. If life is boring, media can excite. If life is sad, media can cheer us up. If life is frustrating, media provides a way for us to escape.
And the best part? We don’t have to put any effort into it. Due to our natural tendencies to watch, listen, and otherwise enjoy passively, we end up mindlessly consuming the messages presented in media, often oblivious to the power it has on us.
We should be disturbed by this. Christ does not call us to passive acceptance of whatever the world throws at us.
We need to start regulating our media intake.
1. Employ Caution
Before we even watch a movie or listen to a song or install the Instagram app, we need to cautiously consider whether this will be helpful or harmful to us. Even when the content itself seems morally neutral, it’s shockingly easy for our wicked hearts to twist it into sin as we idolize, obsess, and allow seemingly good things to take control of us. We need to be aware of our weaknesses and keep a watch on the areas where we’re most prone to temptation. No matter how harmless a show or an app may seem, Satan can and may use it against us.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
2. Evaluate Messages
Once we’ve accepted a type of media as not harmful for our spiritual, physical, mental or emotional wellbeing, it’s tempting to just turn off our minds. But we can’t do that! Every show, song, book, or post has a message. It may not be obvious, but it’s there. If we turn off our minds, we leave the gate open for false philosophies to seep into both our minds and our hearts.
As Christians, we need to think about the messages being sent through media in light of the truth God provides for us in Scripture (and if we can’t do this, we probably need to be studying Scripture more.) God gave us the Holy Spirit for a reason. We need to use discernment.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
3. Exercise Control
Every morning we open Facebook instead of opening our Bibles, every time we listen to that song that spoon-feeds us innocent looking lies packaged in perfect melodies, and every time we watch the movie that sends shivers down our spines and keeps us awake at night, we’re allowing the devil to step one foot further in the door–and pushing back the life-giving Holy Spirit.
We must recognize when we’re crossing the line of temptation and we must say no to sin. Even good things have to be avoided sometimes if they have too much power over us. The rewards of heaven aren’t for everyone. They’re for genuine followers of Christ, those of us who by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit exercise the self-control needed to live in holiness.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
We live in a time where the temptations of the world are only one click away. Fighting temptation will be hard, but we must rise to the challenge. Let’s be cautious, consider what we consume, and take control over the influence of media. Instead of being controlled by worldly influences, let’s set an example of holiness and influence the world for Christ.