One of the most oft-quoted scriptures is "be in the world, but not of the world."
In our best understanding that means something like 'live normally, among normal people; but don't be corrupted by the values of secular society."
in other words, do the stuff everyone does but do it differently. let something other than materialism or fame or lust or whatever animate you as you live.
i think, however, that many christian people have gotten this exactly backwards. we often try to live OUT of the world, but find ourselves still living ACCORDING to the values of the world.
on a recent trip to florida i saw a large bilboard that said "christian actors and singers and musicians wanted...this is what everyone in hollywood is after."
if i'm honest, i really really really hope that this bilboard means
"hollywood is presently open to the gospel in a new way"
but i'm quite certain it doesn't.
i've noticed a saddening trend among christian people - not only in the performing arts, but especially there - to emphasize their christian identity while chasing after the dreams of sex, money, and power. the christian music industry seems to be among the worst offenders, with pop princesses and boy bands galore, each trying to find a way to cross-over into the secular marketplace.
to be clear - i don't think it's bad to want success, or even want to be an artist with a large audience. i just think we ought to acknowledge that when we [a] isolate and segregate ourselves from the rest of the population by signing with 'christian' labels to do 'christian' things we're no longer being obedient to be IN the world; likewise, when we [b] use our 'christian' stuff to try and be famous, get rich, search after outside validation, etc then we must acknowledge we are now OF the world.
i have lots of grace for people who fall into this trap, but i would like to point out that this is, in fact, a trap. and that, by falling into it, we're disobedient in at least 2 directions.
we've got to think critically about who we are and what we're doing, and we've got to recognize that jesus' instructions about "in" but not "of" aren't meant to only be a warning, but also a mandate.
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