Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person
be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger ”
– James 1:19 (ESV)
My son has begun showing an interest in magic tricks. Not sure where it came from, but it’s adorable to watching him make up his own magic tricks. I have a basic understanding of some slight of hand, so I showed him a few things. I would show him the trick, and then he’d try it. Then I would show him how it was done. However, I showed him the first step, and he said, “OH! I get it now… Ok, here…” He wouldn’t let me finish showing him how to do it, instead he heard one small detail and assumed he could do it from there. When he ultimately failed to perform the trick, he got frustrated, and I’d show him again. We repeated the previous sequence of me showing a detail, and him assuming the rest. This cycle ended with him giving up on trying my method and reverting back to his made-up method because he got frustrated he wasn’t doing it. Why wasn’t he? Because he wasn’t listening.
There’s a problem we have in our culture that is at the root of the failure of relationships. It’s something that impacts the most basic human relationship, being a friend, all the way to the most complex, being a good spouse. If you can’t listen, you can’t hear. If you can’t hear, you can’t provide comfort, conversation or convincing. This problem is why we have continuing protests during the national anthem in the NFL, a skyrocketing divorce rate and an increase in suicides.
After the Las Vegas shooting, the media hunted down the brother of the alleged shooter. The man, in shock, told reporters his brother wasn’t into guns, wasn’t having issues and didn’t have any gun training. All of which, have shown to be untrue. Whether the brother was lying or not, it shows the severe breakdown in the familial relationship and communication. Either the shooter failed to communicate with his brother, or vice versa.
When we think about our evangelistic efforts, or even just having simple conversations with others about our faith, do you stop and listen? One of the best ways to reach people with the Gospel is to listen to where the person is with their faith. How can we convert them to Christ if we don’t know what beliefs they currently hold? Ask question, and listen to answers. Don’t stop them and correct error right away, rather listen to where they are. Make notes if you need to, so you can address the potential error they believe with accurate scripture. But you need this baseline understanding of a person’s faith so you know where to take them in your one-on-one study, if you head that way.
Proverbs 18:13 says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” And James, who covers this concept of listening and speaking very thoroughly wrote, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” How we listen, how we speak and address others about matters of faith have incredible importance in the ongoing relationship, and potentially their willingness to hear the truth in scripture. So stop. Listen. Be slow to speak and hear where others are coming from. If it means getting rid of any preconceived beliefs or assumptions, do it. Listen, research, study, learn and teach.
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Please
don’t hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.
God loves you, and so do I!
Hollywood’s True Colors Have Always Been on Display
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” – Galatians 5:19-24 (ESV)
If you’ve watched the news at all during the last few weeks, you’ve likely heard about scandal after scandal coming out of Hollywood. Powerful men accused of taking advantage of those who were “subordinate” to them. It started with Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer, who was accused by several women of sexual harassment. This lead to several actors and actresses revealing that they, too, had been victims. Women were empowered to lift up their voices and speak out against the inappropriate actions of their colleagues.
Then, last week, the accusations against Kevin Spacey began to hit the press. Allegations that went from harassment to assault accusations. Sexual advances toward young men. Netflix, who distributes the Spacey-starring show “House of Cards,” has informed producers the show will not continue on their platform if Spacey is a part of it. Now they’re reeling to figure out how to continue the show without their lead actor.
Those two seem to be the tip of the iceberg as more and more reports, accusations and apologies continue to roll out from celebrities. Over the last week I watched social media and the response of people to these stories. I see shock, disbelief, and sadness at the fact that these people, whom they looked up to, could be capable of such atrocities. The sad, unfortunate reality is that these celebrities were being idolized, thus the sadness, shock and disbelief.
I struggle with understanding how or why people are shocked at these allegations coming out of Hollywood regarding "sexual misconduct" (read sexual immorality). Is it really all that shocking when it stems from an industry that thrives on sexual immorality, the objectification of women and the unapologetic desire to build success around the philosophy that "sex sells." Hollywood tries to paint including sex and nudity in films as “art”. But in reality, according to studies, women are shown nude in movies three times more than men are. Why? Because our culture, this world, is ruled by sin. And sexual immorality is at the heart of it. What better way to get people to buy tickets and watch a movie by appealing to the lusts of the flesh? Learn more about the depravity of Hollywood in this video from VidAngel: Video
This is in no way excusing the (alleged) actions of these depraved individuals, but rather shedding some light on the inevitability of this happening in the sin-filled culture that is Hollywood. It should come at no shock these that things are coming to light. Look at the verse above from Galatians where Paul details the works of the flesh, he’s detailing Hollywood, the music industry and entertainment today in general. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” Are you allowing that temple to be influenced and filled with the things Paul details as “works of the flesh?”
Note also, Paul’s statement in Gal 5:24, “those who belong to Christ [should] have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (emphasis added)” Killing the lusts of the flesh. Separating yourself from them…
So, what can you do? Don't support Hollywood! Refuse to partake, purchase or propagate films, shows, music, etc. that are full of this debauchery. There are better things you can focus your attention on. Teach your children, both by example and through education, to avoid these things. Entertainment is not a "necessary thing (cf. Lk 10:42)". In fact, when we look at the exchange between Christ and Martha (Lk 10:38-42), in regard to her sister Mary, Martha was focused more on "entertaining", or being a good hostess, than learning from Christ. Perhaps we can apply something from that as well. Entertainment can quickly become an idol in our lives if it takes the place of Christ in our hearts. Put Christ first, dear church!
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God loves you, and so do I!
- Derek -