“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
By Whose Authority?
Americans are known for their strong sense of independence and a desire to “do it their way”. They don’t want to be told what to do. Perhaps this is due to the foundation of our nation as the patriots rebelled against the authority of the King in England. They wanted to create their own laws and rules of society rather than be unjustly controlled by another nation. They were motivated by the idea of freedom. Today much of that attitude continues.
Christians in America often seem to be walking a delicate balance, as they recognize God as their Creator and the Ruler of His Kingdom but struggle with our DNA as rebels.
The mass media reflect the attitudes of our changing culture. What was the norm 50 or 30 or even 10 years ago isn’t today’s reality. America was established as a nation “under God”, but the values that are perpetrated by the media, through TV, movies, advertising, music, and social media are often in conflict with the founding fathers’ values.
Have you noticed friends or family members – or perhaps fellow church-goers (or even ourselves at times) – who have compromised their values to be in line with the changing culture? They want to blend in rather than take a bold stand for God’s ways and His laws. They submit to the authority of popular thinking rather than the authority of our Lord.
“Cultural chameleons” are all around us. Whose authority will direct their lives? They have chosen to “go with the flow” rather than stand up with a conflicting message or worldview.
Our children and teens are watching how we respond. Ken Ham writes in his book, “Already Gone”, that many teens today – even those attending church with their parents – are planning to disembark from the “religious ship” as soon as they are able. Barna Research has found that only 1 in 3 teens will likely continue to participate in church life once they are on their own. (https://answersingenesis.org/media/video/creation/already-gone)
Churches are no longer regarded as relevant by our children and teens, and many are following the PC worldview of our current culture.
Governments rule but God reigns! We are called to submit to our existing government’s rules, laws, and purposes… unless they don’t line up with God’s laws. When this happens, it is essential that we follow the authority of God Almighty.
So… how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
This is an issue that needs to be discussed with our children and grandchildren and those in our sphere of influence. How will they know “by whose authority” we live unless we tell them?
• Share Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Discuss what this verse means to you.
• In the Beatitudes, Jesus shares his teaching, which certainly goes against their society’s views. In the last verse, He states, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11) Ask, “It seems that Jesus understood that being bold for God’s ways would cause conflict. What are your thoughts about this?”
• Ask, “When is it right to go against prevailing cultural views?” Discuss how the Christian baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop, became the center of a political and social conflict over the past few years. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masterpiece_Cakeshop_v._Colorado_Civil_Rights_Commission)
• Discuss this question: Is it possible to express personal convictions and avoid conflict at the same time?
Encourage youth to take a stand. As Aaron Tippin’s country song says, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_s-Qk07KxA)
Or perhaps a paraphrase, “you’ll fall for everything!