I enjoy pop-culture. I make my playlists (modern-talk for “mix-tapes”) for the special people and moments in my life. I binge Netflix when necessary. I Hulu a few of my fav’s when I can. “Get a Redbox” is a phrase you will hear if you are in my house and hanging with my family. I enjoy a good movie premiere.
And Hollywood gets a bad rap. And rightly so. They produce a lot of garbage. But can I expect a creative collection of people who love to make stories come to life on the big screen to make moral films with a wholesome life message who have not experienced the renewing power of Jesus? I can’t.
So why do we bash people who don’t know Christ or criticize those who are just getting to know Christ when they don’t “act” like Christian?
I have been in church settings when the speaker or conference is complaining about the artist or the actor. Saying things like, “[insert famous person here] is responsible for the immorality of this generation and God will judge their ways.” A loaded statement. Whether it’s true or not is up to God and the Bible. But the bigger question here is this: What if that particular Hollywood star heard this? Is that the first thing they need to hear from the church? Is that the first thing you would say to Kim Kardashian, Hillary Clinton, Justin Bieber, Tom Cruise or Donald Trump? I sure hope not.
In Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). To condemn if you break the word down is into two words: “con” and “demn.” “Con” means to “be in association with” and “demn” is where we get the root for the word “damn” from the word“damnation.” Essentially when we condemn someone we are saying we are putting them into association with those destined to share their future with the devil. When the woman was caught having sex with another man (a familiar theme in music and movies that I have observed lately) Jesus first words were I don’t condemn you and don’t do it again. The religious people of her day wanted to destroy her, her reputation and her future. Jesus wants to direct her into a good future and purpose in God’s love by showing her first love then truth.
The Bible is clear that if we don’t have love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13). How can I speak to influencers in Hollywood (musicians, actors, artists, government officials, athletes, etc.) and to influencers with those same titles in my local community(the coffee shop musicians, local theater actors, community artists, town government officials, high school or college athletes, etc.) if there is no love, compassion, or kindness coming from me? If someone said that about you, would you want to listen to them, be open to them to hear about God, etc.? Obviously not. If you speak against a person of influence like that the reality is you have just put up a wall against them. YOU just put up a wall. Jesus spoke the truth in love and had the perfect balance of grace and truth and we should as well.
The problem is we choose to speak first and love second. We do this because we think if we don’t say something we are endorsing it. That’s why we inappropriately back up what we do with the out-of-date phrase “hate the sin but love the sinner.” I don’t need to say that phrase to qualify or disqualify if I go to my gay friends wedding, to be with my friend who’s living with his girlfriend or anyone else who happens to be struggling with a sinful issue, to have dinner with a Target executive, etc. What I need to do is simply love the person I’m with, with the extravagant love of Jesus while being soundly grounded in Scripture so I can speak wisdom and encourage as often as I can with God’s holiness as a guide and God’s love as my motive.
So what does Scripture say about trying to live God's way with people? See below:
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way… Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.” Galatians 5:22-26
If you want to check yourself on how you’re doing in engaging with culture, then check the fruit of your life. How are these fruits of the Spirit coming out of our lives: love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When I’m engaging, talking, criticizing, changing, loving, inspiring and influencing others…is this my demeanor and attitude? If not, I better check myself. These fruits should be how we carry ourselves as Christians. These attributes should be how we govern our lives and the lives of others and those that we don’t know or don’t agree with.
How Christians Should Approach the Entertainment Industry:
Realize every entertainer and personality you disapprove of is loved by God.
That means when we attack we are criticizing God’s heart and His creative work. The reality is the most disliked or perverted person is someone that God loves because God’s love isn’t conditional but unconditional. I’m not saying we can’t have a conviction towards someone’s words or actions. I’m not saying you can’t disapprove of them. I'm simply saying how my attitude and heart is towards someone... is an attitude and heart towards someone God loves dearly.
Develop a prophetic eye to see who they could be.
God desires that actor, musician or reality star to be who they are destined to be in Christ. If they are spiritually “off track” then their gifts and talents can be warped to not serve God’s purpose but a different one. Maybe the dirty stand-up comic is really supposed to be a youth pastor but was turned away from church by a bad experience. Maybe the pop artist is really supposed to be a worship leader but was told her music was sounding too much like the devil and a religious person made sure they knew it. The movie director is really a master storyteller who should be captivating audiences with sharing Biblical stories than writing stories of his own showing the world how bad God is rather instead of telling the world how good God is. I realize not every entertainer is a fallen spiritual hero but it is true to say every person has gifts and talents that were intended to be used by God for His purposes. A prophetic eye sees these entertainers and their gifts the way God sees them and the way they were intended.
Hope is a powerful word in our culture with people who don’t know God.
Hope is a word that resonates with many people. It might even be one of the most powerful evangelistic words you can bring in our world today. Kris Valotton says, “He who gives the most hope will have the greatest influence.” I agree! Usually broken people are trying to find an answer or relief from their addiction, pain and suffering. Hope says that there is a feeling that the future that God has for them that is secure, full of love, healthy and healed can be had or that will turn out for the best because of Jesus. God says, “All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:14-15
Love gives you an authority in your life to change culture.
Maybe that’s why the greatest of these is love. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is the highest authority then when we love with God's love, we are demonstrating the authoritative power of God with someone. Shawn Boltz says, "you will never have authority over what you do not love." So when I have a loving heart and live out the love of God with others, I am demonstrating an authority and power that is stronger than what any lyric, script, person or idea.
Any I am forgetting or you would add?