Conform or be Transformed

I have spent a lot of time consuming entertainment. I love movies, TV, books and music so much I even turned it into a career, spending 11 years studying literature and culture at University and eventually lecturing uni courses on English Literature, media and culture.

In the time B.C. (before children), I would spend hour after hour binge-watching episode upon episode of my favourite TV series (on DVD – long before streaming services like Netflix, Stan or Foxtel Now made their way to Australia!).

But lately, things have begun to change for me. More and more, God is convicting me of his words in Romans 12:1-2 –

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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.

The therefore in the verse is there for a reason. If I truly believe all God has done to make me his own, bought and paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, then this verse tells me one way to respond. DO NOT conform, but BE transformed.

With these verses in mind, looking back on all the TV I’ve watched, all the times I’ve gone to the movies, and all the music I’ve listened to, is a sobering experience. If I’m honest with myself, there is very little of what I have consumed that will transform me or renew my mind, and much that will work to conform me to the pattern of this world.

The hours I spent watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer were never going to help me seek God’s kingdom first.

My teenage obsession with The X Files never led me into God’s truth (despite the show’s claims that the truth is out there).

And even though Josiah Bartlet, the fictional president in The West Wing might be wise, he’s got nothing on King Solomon and definitely nothing compared to the wise/foolish message of Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18).

More recently, I’ve stopped watching as much TV, but now my entertainment diet is a never-ending stream of the latest happenings in US Politics. I get my fill by watching Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, then listen to as many political podcasts as I can stand.

Different content. Same effect.

I want to try something new. I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. In this age of content on demand, I want to make wise choices. I want to be guided by Paul’s principle in Philippians 4:8 –

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

I’ll let you know how I go.

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