Don’t know what all the fuss is about ZOMBIES these days. As a pastor, I’ve dealt with them often…
It’s called the Sunday early service. I never fail to mutter at least once under my breath, “I SEE DEAD PEOPLE”! (“ba dup bup…”)
That little joke was a reference to a scary little movie called “The Sixth Sense”. And by acknowledging I’ve actually seen it, as a pastor and Christian I have opened myself up to the criticism of those good Christians who would never in a million years watch such a film, much less expect a pastor to use it as an illustration.
OK, tell me when you’ve stopped pretending to be shocked, and I’ll proceed… ;0)
Honestly, there’s a good bit of hypocrisy going on when it comes to media. I once worked at a church that made ministers on staff sign a statement they would not attend R-rated movies, among other things. For me, that wasn’t a big deal, so I signed without much thought.
However, I found it interesting later on to discover many of the other ministers on staff did indeed avoid attending R-rated movies…in public: instead, they simply rented them and watched them at home! And this was along with violent video games that were often the equivalent of most R-rated movies.
There’s a long list of no no’s that concerned, frowning believers will warn you…quite vocally and insistently…you MUST stay away from. Of course, anything to do with Halloween is one of them.
- I must confess that my main personal problem with Halloween is the term “fun-sized candy bar“. If it were really fun-sized, it would weigh about the same as a Buick! Just sayin’…
Here’s a few others Christian no no’s:
SpongeBob Squarepants (seriously?)
Harry Potter books & movies
Basically every movie ever made (if you’re really spiritual)
I would list more of them, but I’ve probably already hit on one of which you disapprove. You probably should immediately stop reading this and inform the church prayer chain to intercede for me. Thanks, for that – I can use all the prayer I can get.
Now, I’m not saying I consider all these “pastor-approved”, nor do I partake in all of them (although definitely “some” of them. But you’ll just have to make a good guess…I don’t kiss and tell).
But each of them are in fact something that someone has a “personal conviction” to avoid. That’s when you as a Christian have a strong feeling about not partaking in something you feel may be harmful to your spiritual health.
Usually this is a great thing, because the Holy Spirit will specifically warn us to avoid a certain thing or activity that’s hurting us. I’ve experienced that often in my own life.
The conflict comes when we take this personal conviction and “feel led” to apply it to all other Christians, and then get offended when they don’t see it as we do. Sadly, we often proceed to judge those believers who aren’t “in compliance” with what God told us personally.
One interesting thing about my list of no no’s is none of these things are mentioned in Scripture specifically. When the Bible doesn’t speak directly to something, we need to be careful about speaking to it. If the Bible is silent, often we should be too.
That’s not saying that Scripture can’t be applied to them in some way. There are lots of new cultural things that weren’t mentioned in Scripture simply because they didn’t exist at the time. The trick (or treat) is to apply the principles of Scripture to whatever new phenomenon you face and discern whether or not that activity is acceptable to the Lord.
So just how we apply Scripture then becomes an issue of our personal interpretation or application of that Scripture. And that’s where we often get in trouble.
Here’s a few guidelines I keep in mind whenever determining my own personal convictions or being confronted by those from others…
- Scripture is completely true and without error…but YOU ARE NOT!
So stop giving your personal conviction the same weight as Scripture. That is actually getting pretty close to self-idolatry. Remember, there is a God, and you are not Him!
2. Unless it is obviously going to do great spiritual harm to someone else…KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!
We are called to preach God’s Gospel, not our own. Don’t waste time on things that will only divide and cause conflict.
3. That conviction to avoid a certain thing may actually be FOR YOU ALONE!
Other people may not be caused to stumble when exposed to that activity, and yet God has told you specifically to avoid it. Don’t assume just because God gave you a restriction that He has necessarily given it to the entire world. If so, it would probably be clearly stated in Scripture, right?
For example – I enjoy listening to almost all styles of music (with the possible exception of some rap and country…don’t hate!). However, I’ve discovered Christians for whom certain styles of music bring back negative feelings and emotions from their previous destructive lifestyle.
What may be perfectly permissible for me may not be wise for them. But it would be wrong for them to then scold me for listening to jazz, just because they used to play Miles Davis CDs while doing drugs. Avoiding that style of music may truly be something God has spoken to them…but it may be a prohibition ONLY for them.
When we’re always telling people what they shouldn’t be doing, we appear to have “sour grapes” over the rest of the world having too much fun. Unfortunately, for some Christians I believe that is exactly what is going on. We have some taboo left over from how we were brought up, one that is not Biblical and we should have out grown long ago. We still restrict ourselves out of fear or allegiance to some spiritual leader who taught it to us, but get mad when we see other indulging in it with glee.
So we criticize others and become the cosmic “Party Pooper” the world always accused us of being. And we accomplish something that thrills Satan: we make Christianity look like no fun at all. How ironic that the children of the One who came to bring abundant life are the very ones sapping much of the joy out of it!
So the bottom line is. if you have a “personal conviction” about something, keep it “personal”. If someone asks you why you don’t do such and such, tell them clearly but calmly. But let go of the need to impose your own extra-Biblical standards on others…unless you happen to be studying to be a Pharisee.
If so, then by all means, knock yourself out.
With all that being said, here’s wishing you a Happy Hallow…um, or…All Saints Day?…Fall Festival?…oh, whatever.