I saw a tweet from Scott Duvall today that aligned with some thoughts I was having over coffee and scripture relative to our society, iOSes and pirates.
@jscottduvall: More and more convinced that the driving passion of our culture is entertainment in all its various forms.
Yesterday, the new iOS 7 was released. Social media was abuzz, and everyone hammered whatever WIFI they could find in a digital footrace to become an early adopter. Apple has created such a nerd dash phenomenon in their iOS releases. For hours, and from sea to shining sea, people from moms to Miley opined on the features they liked or hated.
Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrr. We live in a strange place. It’s like our culture has become a national youth group. We have to have something external – everyday – to distract us and as Scott said above, to entertain us.
If it’s not something like an Apple announcement or an i-Patch (see what I did there?), it’s the latest news about whatever athlete, singer, politician or groundhog. The media have made the banal an ingredient for whipping us all into a cultural frenzy over insignificance.
Ask yourself today.. who or what is our culture trying to distract me from? Who or what do I not think about when I am consumed with the latest tech or news?
I propose to you that what is happening is a strategy to keep you from significance and the eternal. It’s a masterful manipulation of your attention through commercials, consumerism, sexuality and ordinariness. Yet all of it together is being used to keep you from stopping to… think.
Even as I typed this, I glanced down at an important text – to find that it was from Redbox, offering me a free movie. Ooooo. I need to go see what the latest releases are… See how it works? And where I was once toying with the idea of examining the eternal and sublime, I’m now wondering if I need to see World War Z again.
Scripture talks of those who follow “the course of this world” (Ephesians 2.2) and indicates that there is a temporary though powerful ruler of our present age. That verse calls Satan the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” Jesus said in John 12.31 that He defeated Satan and was casting out “the ruler of this world.”
So there’s an entity, a being in charge of your distraction. Change the “a” in distraction to a “u,” and you’ll understand what he is really after in your life – destruction.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10)
Satan’s masterful manipulation of your attention and seemingly innocent love for entertainment is done to keep you from significance, matters of eternity and real life. All the things that he does in our world today to accomplish this – the systems, the societies, the abuse, the injustice, the consumerism, the greed, etc – these big picture and overwhelming systems are called “this present darkness” in Ephesians 6.12.
The apostle John said it like this:
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)
Before you rip off your eye patch or deep-sixing your iPhone in alarm and disgust, here’s the thing: Rise above it all. The things in this world aren’t evil in and of themselves. It’s how you use them or allow yourself to be used by them. Take time to think. Truly think.
Socrates had it right and merely echoed biblical principles when he said:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Compare it to Haggai 1.5, 7:
“Consider your ways.”
Or to Paul’s instruction:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
When you take time to get quiet and think, you’ll also begin to truly listen. Listening deeply is a prerequisite for the rewiring of your life. When we’re still, we get reconnected with the deep things of life that humanity was created for. Psalm 46.10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
When you’re still, the noise or language of culture will fade, and you’ll begin to hear another voice speaking.
In their excellent post How to live deeply in a surface society, Timothy Willard and Jason Locy said:
Our cultural language focuses on the self. How can I get ahead? How much money can I make? How great can I appear to others? But for the Christian, this language is antithetical to our faith. Aren’t we called to something more? Something deeper than the veneer this world offers?
In contrast to the language of culture, another language exists. This language points us to our true existence – towards honesty and meaning and deep relationships. It sees the “hollow man” pursuit of the world and pushes past it, toward a renewal of the inner self. It is the language of God.
Reconsider what you’re being distracted by and understand that constant distraction will lead to your destruction. It is an ugly, spiritual strategy designed to keep you from discovering the amazing, deep, beautiful love of God in Jesus Christ. Think deeply, my friends… or your timbers will be shivered.