A couple years back, I was really into Stranger Things. It was the hottest Netflix show with a gripping plotline, loveable characters, and an awesome 80’s aesthetic. I went back and forth before starting the series, but after encouragement from friends and my own curiosity piquing–despite some warning flags in my heart–I decided to give it a go.
Before long, I sat on my bed every night gripping a pillow as I watched the horror-thriller unfold on my laptop. I’d laugh at the protagonists and feel enraptured in the emotions, but often I’d finish each episode red-faced, heart racing. I’ve never been into horror–I was totally against it until that point–but I found myself justifying why Stranger Things was different.
I ended up watching both seasons (all that there was at the time). But even after I finished the series, my comments to others of, “I mean, I like it, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it,” bothered me. If I felt like the inappropriate content, swearing, and demonic elements weren’t something I wanted to promote to others, and was a bad witness to my allegiance with Christ, then why was I watching it?
entertainment affects us more than we admit
It does. We tend justify it, saying, “Oh, it doesn’t bother me,” or “Trust me, my coworker swears more than the characters do combined,” or “It’s not that bad,” or “It’s not real.” I’ll be the first to raise my hand. Whether it’s movies, TV shows, music, games, or social media, I easily make excuses for why something is okay to watch, listen to, play, or follow.
But what does God’s Word say about it? Are we actually not affected by what entertainment we feed our minds and hearts with?
Here it comes, you’re probably thinking. The classic Philippians 4:8.
You’re not wrong. But listen up:
You know what’s really interesting? Check out the verses before this well-known passage.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
Rejoicing in the Lord, loving others, trusting in God, thanking him, and pouring out our hearts and desires to him results in his peace guarding our hearts and minds in Christ. And then Paul wraps up this section with what contributes or maintains this peace:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Something I began to notice in my heart and mind was a lack of peace. The evil and immorality glorified in the show, and what really is a fantasized version of demon possession, began to weigh on me, and I realized that I needed to not watch season 3.
Sure, there was a fight against the sinister forces, but the evil was so overpowering. Sure, the main characters were funny, but their continual swearing was not. Sure, the romances seemed sweet, but there was a nonstop of innuendoes.
It wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want my mind to be full of that stuff.
There’s a lot of unrest for us teenagers and young people. Anxiety, stress, and depression have been skyrocketing, and for some reason we keep going deeper and deeper into the very things that cause us to lack the peace of God. Whether that’s TikTok, a Netflix series, pop music, or video games, these things aren’t filling us with peace.
We keep justifying things that are primarily not truthful, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praise-worthy. But swear words flurry in our minds. Explicit scenes can’t seem to hide from our imagination. Messages to our favorite tunes begin to influence our views on life and certain topics. All for the sake of escape or a good laugh.
Friends, we should be asking ourselves: Is it really worth it?
transformation changes our entertainment.
The Gospel–Jesus Christ’s perfect life, gruesome death, and glorious resurrection making a way for us to be forgiven and redeemed by God–transforms us from the inside out.
I love what Jaquelle Crowe Ferris, former editor-in-chief of The Reb, says in her book This Changes Everything:
“This news shouldn’t just produce a superficial change in your life, a mere outward assent or a Facebook like. It should transform everything about how you live–how you talk and dress and think and engage with culture and who you hang out with and what you post on social media and read and find funny and watch.”
Because of how God is changing our desires, and where we place our value since surrendering to Him, it should also affect our entertainment. Just like every other area of our lives, we need to surrender our phones, game consoles, books, Netflix library, and playlists to God. We have to filter everything we set our minds and hearts on through His Word, to abhor what’s evil and cling to what’s good (Romans 12:9).Just like every other area of our lives, we need to surrender our phones, game consoles, books, Netflix library, and playlists to God. Click To Tweet
I used to be the first to make excuses. And I’m still growing in this area. But since I’ve sought to really pay attention and seek to honor God in the entertainment I engage in, there has been so much more peace in my heart and mind. It’s amazing how we underestimate the sin-saturated influences that we allow to pour into us every day without a second thought.
Because ultimately, we don’t want these things to pull us down. As Hebrews 12:1 says,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”
Let’s be honest with ourselves–really honest. Let’s learn to be aware of the content that distracts us, tempts us, and pulls us into sin, robbing us of the peace and true rest we can have in honoring the Lord.
Sara Barratt’s new book Love Riot has an AWESOME chapter on media and entertainment, with a five-question filter to evaluate what we watch, listen to, etc. It was really convicting and helpful for me, and I know it can be for you, too! Be sure to grab your copy!