Seeing Worldviews behind the Art – Should We Be Separate?

I want to continue thinking about the importance of examining the worldviews of the stories abounding in our culture. These thoughts arise from questions and comments to my first post about Hollywood Worldviews, a book by screenwriter Brian Godawa (IVP).

One question had to do with the validity of working to understand the way others think or speak in light of God’s command for us to be separate, and I’ll add, to be pure and holy.

Like so much in the Christian life, I believe this command exists in tension with another, namely that we are to make disciples. In Jesus’s prayer in John 17, He said

“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

I think there are a couple points we can learn from this passage. First, Jesus asked God to keep His disciples from the evil one. He didn’t give that job to them, as if they themselves could keep from the evil one.

And yet, we are to resist the devil and he will flee from us. The reality is, we are in a spiritual battle against spiritual forces, not fleshly enemies. That fact makes it all the more incumbent upon us to pray that God will keep us from the evil one and to rely on His power, not our own machinations. (“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view [that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness], be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” Eph. 6:18).

Nevertheless, Paul’s lead into the spiritual-armor passage in Ephesians is this:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (emphasis mine).

In 2 Corinthians, Paul says we are not ignorant of Satan’s schemes. And Peter says in his first letter that we are to

be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

But back to Jesus’s prayer. The second point which I think relates to the topic of looking at worldviews behind the art of our culture is this: Jesus sent His disciples into the very world He said they were not of. There’s that tension again.

Elsewhere He said we were to be salt and light. He didn’t spell out how we were to be salty or shine brightly, but from the context and His other instruction, I believe, in a nutshell, we are to be obedient, loving, pure, and unashamed of the gospel—all out in the open for others to see.

So we are to be in the world, shining brightly, but we are also to be on the alert to Satan’s schemes. Why? Because the enemy wants to tarnish our brightness, as individuals and as a Church.

Finally, I’ll mention Paul’s knowledge of Greek culture when he preached to the Athenians (Acts 17). He went out of his way to know what their religious beliefs were:

while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD’ (emphasis mine).

I believe this was Paul being alert to the schemes of the devil as he went about making disciples. In the same way, I think we today should examine the objects of worship disclosed in the stories our culture tells, all so that we can be alert to Satan’s tactics, even as we seek to make disciples.

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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