“Finding Peace in the Cultural Chaos”
“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)
Consider some of the various crises happening right now:
• The COVID-19 pandemic continues its assault on our lifestyle and freedoms, ginning up debates over mask mandates, vaccines, boosters, antibodies, breakthrough cases, ICU and death statistics, hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and other possible treatments, along with so many other issues.
• The porous southern US border is allowing thousands of people to gain access to our country each day, without vetting, vaccines, or viable resources.
• Hurricanes, forest fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and even erupting volcanoes (“Overall, 50 volcanoes were in continuing eruption status as of 19 August 2021”, https://volcano.si.edu/gvp_currenteruptions.cfm) are dominating the news with horrific videos that command our attention.
• Violence in our country is rampant. “At least nine people have been killed and 47 others wounded in shootings across Chicago this weekend, police said.” (Sept. 20, 2021, abc7chicago.com) Schools, grocery stores, malls, and movie theaters – places we’ve always considered to be safe – are the settings for recent shootings.
This list doesn’t include the escalating discord in our country over the Afghanistan withdrawal, globalist and socialist agendas, transgender athletes, rioting, critical race theory, the controversy regarding the 2020 presidential election, defunding the police, the multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, the cancel culture phenomenon, and on and on.
The collective animosity is evident in face-to-face confrontations, as well as on social media and TV and radio talk show programs taking its toll on our emotional equilibrium. As a society our division and disharmony have been ratcheted up… and many have lost their sense of peace. Our children and teens are growing up with “cultural ADHD” and increasing fear, as a resulting from all of this frenzy that they see, hear, and read.
But have we ever truly had peace in our lives? And what actually is peace? On a personal level, the definition is more than “a country that is not at war”. Peace is calmness, an unwavering sense of security, “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, harmony in personal relations, a state of concord or tranquility” (merriam-webster.com).
Our sense of peace is often agitated by the messages and images we receive from the media. Music lyrics, TV news, radio and TV talk shows, social media, newspapers, editorials, and certain blogs agitate our thinking and keep us “stirred up”. Fear is a powerful manipulator of public opinion, allowing governments, organizations, and social networks to curtail our freedoms in ways we would normally not allow.
But where does true peace come from? True peace comes from a reliance on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for guidance, direction, reconciliation, forgiveness, and blessed assurance. The only security we can have depends on a relationship with the Creator. There have always been controversies, government interventions, wars, personal challenges, interpersonal issues, health concerns, doubts and anxiety over the future, financial troubles, arguments and debates, and fear of the unknown. But in and through everything, Jesus is “the King of Peace”. Although these concerns don’t just melt away, His peace does exist amidst our frenetic culture. It’s not just a determination of “mind over matter”, but a sincere and dependable decision to believe God’s word and to rely on God, rather than the world, the government, or ourselves.
Do our children understand this?
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Our homes should be “safety zones”, with as little agitation as possible. Eating dinner together bonds the family. Conversation should not include bickering, put downs, sarcasm, or negativity. There is enough of that in our world and secular entertainment.
Here are conversation starters and activities that can help bring a new sense of peace into our homes.
• Have the teens describe the controversies that they are concerned about, at school, with friends, or in the country. Make a list of these.
• Use this list during the next few conversations to discuss ways to feel less agitated and more optimistic. (See http://www.playfullearning.net/resource/glass-half-full-power-positive-thinking)
• Share your personal relationship with God and how this assures a sense of peace, even in the midst of personal difficulties and cultural upheavals.
• Explain why Jesus is called “the King of Peace”, even though he didn’t live in peaceful times or create a peaceful nation for the Jews while alive.
• Read scriptures that share the glory of God and “the peace that passes all understanding”.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14: 27)
Also read John 20:21, Acts 10:36, Romans 12:18, 1 Peter 3:10-12, Philippians 4:6-8, Proverbs 3:1-3, Psalm 34:13-15, and Romans 15:13.
• Choose uplifting and encouraging Christian movies, DVDs, and TV programs for the family’s entertainment. Discuss them together.
• Encourage teens to join a youth group at a Bible-believing church.
• Spend time together in God’s Word at home, at church, in a Bible sturdy, or small group.
Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
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