“An Audience of One”
“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)
It’s an age-old question: Whom are we seeking to impress by our actions? Do we constantly check to see if others are pleased with our comments, our commitments, and our choices? Do we continually monitor how others react to each statement or decision we make?
The crush of cultural messages can imprint our worldview and detour us away from how we would choose to serve. Many of us feel a need to be politically correct to fit in with those around us: our peers, our co-workers, our friends, and our families. By mouthing the current memes and themes, we self-censor, subduing our own ideas or thoughts to reiterate the fashionable rhetoric.
Culture ebbs and flows like the ocean. Daily disturbances cause Twitter to explode with a myriad of reactions and viewpoints. It is impossible to keep up with the newest and most popular sensibilities.
To be mindful of what are regarded to be inequalities or trending issues is to be “woke”. “Woke is a slang term that is increasingly used as a byword for social awareness. Stay woke became a watch word in parts of the black community for those who were self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better… Like many other terms from black culture that have been taken into the mainstream, woke is gaining broader uses.” (www.merriam-webster.com) It is now used to describe heightened consciousness and awareness.
The unholy alliance of mainstream media, social media, and big tech, has hijacked the current mindset of the populace, as millions struggle to grasp hold of what’s currently considered “woke”. The sweeping force of socially acceptable perspectives delivered via the mass media can dilute individual thought.
As Christ-followers, we are called to look beyond what is seen as culturally correct, and focus solely on an audience of one. “Christ has called us to play to one audience – the audience of Himself. When you seek to please any other audience in your life, you become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment.” (www.allworship.com/audience)
Max Lucado cleverly observed, “A man who wants to lead an orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” In essence it is “marching to the beat of a different drummer.”
It’s easier to fall in line with what everyone else is expressing on TV programs, the news, social media, pop music, movies, and radio talk shows. It’s more challenging to think through each scenario and lean on biblical principles to determine a personal point of view. Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.”
“What’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is not always popular.” True words!
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
• Have conversations with teens that are triggered by the news or politics of the day. Make these “teachable moments” as current events stimulate interaction in your family.
• Watch the same news story on different sources (ABC, CNN, Fox, Newsmax, for instance) and discuss the differences in wording, viewpoints, and the news anchor’s attitudes and how these can color the audience’s responses. Ask what might cause those differences.
• Discuss this together: “What’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is not always popular.” Ask: “Who sets the standard for ‘right’?”
• Discuss the concept of peer pressure. Suggest ways to choose words and actions that don’t conform and don’t offend.
• Ask: “What does it mean to you to ‘play to an audience of one’?”
• Ask: “What current trends or beliefs in our culture seem unreasonable or unsustainable? Why?”
• Insert scripture into conversations to reinforce the ways Jesus teaches us to live.
Note: Share this blog with your church’s youth pastor as a possible lesson for youth group gatherings.
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“I am not defined by the culture.”
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Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
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© Sue Summers 2021