Shock Value

            Sometimes I may show what you may see as my innocence, or naivety.  I may be shocked by things commonplace to you.  You and I have had a different set of experiences.  You’ve been through or done things I haven’t.  I simply can’t identify with some of your life, and you may not be able to identify with some of mine.  However, any gulf between us can be what makes our relationship as fellow human beings an adventure worth exploring.  If you’re born again, what brings us together is the Word of God and a common bond in Christ as Savior.

            I read a book of short stories, one of which was about a group of men who journeyed to a mysterious restaurant known for its specialty of Curry #3.  This exotic dish, supposedly well worth the out-of-the-way trek, contained an unknown meat.  The author stimulated the imagination with ambiguity and questions.  Was the meat from some extraordinary wild beast?  Was it offal, or even remains of a missing tourist, or the unborn? What in the world was I reading?  I don’t mind a “good” horror or science fiction story now and then, but what sick mind wrote this?  Who was his intended audience, and what reaction was he trying to elicit?  Maybe I responded to stimuli as planned.  I quit reading it.  Similarly, these days I’m appalled when I think of lyrics of music I used to listen to.  Never mind today’s filthy stuff.

            My high school English teacher often emphasized the importance of a piece of literature or a play for its “socially redeeming qualities.”  That phrase could easily be misused to rationalize exposing oneself to a whole host of garbage.  Nonetheless, I don’t flinch when watching a movie containing profanity, violence, or some sexuality, because those elements aren’t what attract me to the story.  I look for the story’s main message.  My friend B. is a Christian lady who simply won’t watch a movie with profanity.  I don’t chastise her for that because of the Apostle Paul’s guidelines in Romans 14-15 and various passages in his letters to the Corinthians.  Namely, don’t cause another brother or sister in Christ to stumble.  They may not have the same liberty of conscience or level of maturity.  While that person might need to be shocked out of their ignorance or complacency now and then, I don’t want to be the one to entice them away from their walk with the Lord.  The world already does enough of that.  My job is to edify or build up.  Yet, there’s another side of the coin.  Maybe that weaker believer is offended by something I would do well to find offensive.  Maybe I’ve become desensitized or too familiar with sinfulness.  Paul warns not to use liberty to satisfy the flesh (Gal. 5:13).  This is part of the tightrope we must walk in the Christian life.  God is holy, and we must live in the world without being conformed to it (Rom 12:1-2)

            After Paul Harvey reads a story he finds loathsome or disgusting, he often transitions to the next one by saying, “Wash your ears out with this.”  I’m reminded that the psalmist wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Ps. 119:11).  Paul says, by the Spirit, one of the weapons we have as Christians is “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).  He also admonishes: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,…honest,…just,…pure,…lovely,…of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8).

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

One Comment on “Shock Value”

  1. Emma Says:

    Hey I love this blog. I can see the time and effort put into this.. Thanks!


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