What are you eating? Not physically into your body, but what are you feeding your spirit–your heart and mind? Are you nourishing it with frequent exposure to that which is good: God’s Word and other upright teaching and examples through what you read, watch and listen to? Or have you abandoned yourself to the influence of what God has clearly identified as “this present evil age?” Don’t!
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
God has a method for accomplishing His plan to make us into the people He wants us to be, and in some respects, it’s very practical. Yes, He gives us a new heart and soul–a new birth, a desire to please Him and hang out with Him, but we get this in a very straightforward way–through sufficient exposure to the Word of God. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV) We become Christians by hearing (and humbly accepting in faith) enough of the message of the Word of God, but if we cut ourself off from getting “too much Bible,” how will we ever know enough about Jesus to place our trust in Him? We probably won’t!
Or what if we go to church, but on the way there, on the way back, and throughout the entire rest of the week we bombard our conscious minds with music filled with language to make a sailor blush and messages of rebellion against God? It’s the parable Jesus told, “…saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.'” (Matthew 13:3-4 NIV) Filling your heart and mind with bad messages at every other moment sends out the proverbial birds to eat up any good seed that might have been sown in your heart at church! It’s not going to stick, because your life is otherwise filled with wrong teaching!
Or what if we watch programs that lie to us about what’s good and bad–that give clear examples of people doing what God says is wrong seeming happy and not suffering the consequences of their wrongdoing? Whether bad language, bad attitudes or bad lifestyle, God calls this out and condemns it in no uncertain terms: “Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, Who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness, Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 MSG)
So then what? Are we supposed to be strange people, listening to nothing but traditional hymns? There is an older translation of the Bible that calls us a peculiar people, but no, we don’t have to surround ourselves nonstop with hallelujahs and amens. There’s a lot to listen to besides what you’ve become accustomed to that’s at the bottom of the barrel. God tells us these things not to constrain and make us miserable, but to show us how to have a full and happy life, and grow closer and closer to Him!
I’ve personally experienced the progression from distant to closer. Initially, I didn’t particularly want to hear about God, probably not unlike you. But once I had heard enough to understand, God called to my spirit and I responded; I put my trust in Jesus. After this I wasn’t repulsed by Jesus anymore, but there certainly were many years of my life during which I also wasn’t especially seeking Him out either. It took time and lots of Bible study and active prayer to get to a place in my relationship with Jesus where I actively now feel Him in my life, and it took me asking Him to want His presence more to get it.
And, there are things which break that relationship–that fellowship. I can be great with God, but if I sit down and watch a program that models sin to me, that rightness with God is broken. Instead of closeness, there’s distance; I don’t feel Him–His favor and presence–anymore, and rightly so, because I’ve done something I shouldn’t have, I’ve participated in sin that’s put distance between us. Even if I’ve just passively participated by watching others sin and not walked away or shut it off or tried to fix it if it’s real life and happening right in front of me–sin is serious; it breaks my rightness with God.
God wants me to be fixed from the contagion of sin infecting me, and He accomplishes that through consistent exposure to good–as I surround myself with the purifying influence of His Word and the right teaching that comes from it. The Holy Spirit uses this constant exposure in my life to make me more holy, sanctified, turned into the person He wants for me to become–Jesus said so!
And, He tells me to fill my conscious mind with ideas and thoughts and words and songs and stories that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy–with that which is good, because God is good, and He desires for us to be so too!
So, what are you eating, especially in your most private of spaces? Remember that just as you can’t really hide what you’re filling your body with in the long run because your weight gain will be obvious to all, what you eat spiritually will also eventually come out in the ugliness of your life, and distance from God and that which is good.
Don’t do it! Don’t excuse your lifestyle or even your lapses; shut the bad off and walk away. Initially you might have to make yourself listen to or watch what is good if you’ve become accustomed to what is bad and have to untrain yourself, but know that God will help you–He promises, “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed…I’ll turn things around for you. You can count on it.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14 MSG)
Help me cut out the bad stuff; please help me replace it with that which makes me more like You want me to be. Amen.