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Where the Mind Goes

on May 18, 2012

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

 (Philippians 4:8, KJV)

  Where the Mind Goes I have heard this verse used in sermons and bible studies many times. It is usually in the context of protecting our thoughts by what we put into our mind. You know, like listening to Christian music, reading “good” books, limiting television and movie viewing to G rated materials, and other things like that. But I don’t necessarily agree with that interpretation. In the verses before this believers are being encouraged to always rejoice in God and not worry about things.  The last part of this verse says If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these” I believe Paul was telling believers to look closely at the things happening in their lives and in the world around them and to find any inkling of good that there was and hold on to that.

   I have been in the midst of situations that were terrible but there always seemed to be one incident or object or just something that stood out as amazing in the middle of all the bad.  I think Paul is telling believers to hold on to these things. If we can focus on these, we can find things to praise God for no matter how bad everything else may be.  They serve to remind us that God is there and will be there and he is in control so all we have to do is endure.

   As to limiting our entertainment and media usage to only “Christian” sources or child-proof levels, I think that is a mistake. I am not saying to read or watch porn. That’s a little too extreme. But what I am saying is that we live in a complicated, messy, unpleasant (at times) society and world. Having a simplistic view of the culture is not going to work. You can’t reach those you can’t understand. You can’t survive in a culture you can’t keep up with. Look at the Amish. Even their communities are having to change to keep up. Either that or they are dying.

   Do we have to protect our children from the culture? Absolutely!!!! But you can’t do this by keeping them insulated from life. They need to be given age appropriate access to cultural norms and then you need to talk WITH them about it. Don’t leave them to process on their own and don’t reject their thoughts and feelings. Help them find the good and virtuous and reject the bad in the music, books and movies around them.  If we do that with both our children and ourselves, we can be in the world but not of the world. We can connect with non-believers in a meaningful way and we can make informed choices about things that we need to work to change.

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