Enjoying Culture without Being Consumed

At Christ and Pop Culture we’ve had some wonderful discussions and debates about the culture around us and the way our faith interacts with culture. We believe it is good and important to discuss pop culture for a number or reasons: it affects the people we minister and witness to, it shapes the world around us, it is a creation of people made in the image of God, and since we are all a part of culture, we discuss it so that we can remain unspotted from the world while remaining in the world.

But perhaps at the heart of all our discussions is our love of pop culture. Most of us spend a lot of our time watching TV or films, playing video games, reading books, listening to music, or clicking around on the Internet. Modern, American culture is enchanting; it is often consciously crafted to capture and keep our attention in order to sell us a product, service, or idea. We love culture, and since it is a good thing to enjoy the world God has given us (including the worlds man has made) it seems natural to devote time to exploring and enjoying the culture around us.

In keeping with this idea of encouraging believers to remain righteous and holy in their interactions with culture, I would like to encourage us to remember the urgency of the Gospel. Since the driving motivation of much of the entertainment we consume is to persuade us to be increasingly tied to the things of this world, it is important that while we watch TV, listen to music, or play a game, we acknowledge that these things will challenge the urgency that we are called to by the Gospel.

In what I think is one of the most important passages governing the way we should view the world around us, Paul gives us two commands: be careful to walk wisely, and make good use of your time:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

Why does he give these commands? Because the days are evil. There are two concepts concerning “evil days” which I believe can help us gain a more proper understanding of how we should interact with culture.

First, since the days are evil, we must be wise about what we consume and how much we consume or else we risk becoming conformed to this world. One of the explicit purposes of CAPC is to help people have a better understanding of pop culture so that they can walk carefully and redeem their time. Consuming too much worldly entertainment (or any entertainment for that matter) is bound to have detrimental effects upon a person’s walk.

The second concept is that since the days are evil, we must be wise about the way we witness to those around us and have a sense of urgency about this witnessing. Our time is limited and the situation is dire. The Church is divided and polluted by false doctrine, consumerism, and apathy; the world is filled with people who have never heard the Gospel; and there are widows, orphans, poor and oppressed people who are in serious financial and physical need.

While there are some clear benefits and righteous pleasures to be had from enjoying the culture around us, whenever we can ignore the urgency that Paul is calling us to here in Ephesians and be “entertained” then we are really denying that the days are evil and our time is short. If we can watch a movie and expunge an awareness of the triviality of being entertained, then we are really denying that Christ’s work on the cross demands something of us, that there are others who are in need who we are capable of aiding.

There’s a delicate balancing act here, and I’m not claiming to be the tight-rope walker I ought to be. But I believe that we can gain our equilibrium if we remember a few truths. I will discuss these truths and their implications tomorrow in part two.

About Alan Noble

(Co-Founder/Editor/Columnist) is a part-time lecturer at Baylor University. He received his PhD in Contemporary American Literature from Baylor, writing on manifestations of transcendence in 20th Century American Lit. He and his family attend Redeemer Waco, a PCA church. Alan's passion is studying how believers can be a faithful presence in culture to the glory of God and the edification of others. In addition to editing, Alan writes his column, Citizenship Confusion for CaPC.

---Follow Alan on Twitter @TheAlanNoble and on Facebook.

---For questions, comments, or interest in speaking engagements please email me at noble.noneuclidean [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • Mike

    Excellent beginning. I have been teaching through Judges, Jeremiah and Daniel over the last few months at our church concerning how the church is to live within a pluralistic culture and what we have seen is how comtemporary these books are. Judges exposes us to how far “the people of God are willing to fall” Jeremiah shows us the light of the gospel (especially Jeremiah 29 in light of living in exile..”pray for the city..) as well as the liberal…always thinking everything will work out philosophy of the church. But in Daniel we see an example of a pursuit of holiness like no other place. Paul exhorts us to holiness, Daniel shows us how to to that. I love how Daniel is not consumed by the culture while he certainly is in the midst of it. He takes measures to ensure his distinctiveness as a Christian that supports all that you are beginning to say.

    Thank you, and I look forward to the next piece. By the way have you read anything by peter Jones on this subject or Michael horton’s Beyond Cultural Wars?

  • Pingback: Christ and Pop Culture | Enjoying Culture without Being Consumed, Part 2

  • Alan Noble

    Mike-

    Thanks for the response! The connections to the Old Testament prophets are interesting; I hadn’t thought of them in that light before, but that does make sense.

    As for Jones and Horton, I haven’t read them, yet. Are they worth a read?

    I hope the second half was the pay off you anticipated!

    -Alan


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