I struggle with rabbit trails. It’s no secret that I’m easily distracted, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to label myself ADD, it takes a lot of effort to keep my thoughts on task. Having said that, I am learning that sometimes the Lord guides us to the “rabbit trails” when we sit down to study his word. Recently I ran across an article online about why pastors don’t preach on demons. As I read the article, I looked up the various scriptures he referenced. Our pastor at Fathers House Church teaches that we should always measure everything against the word of God, so I’m really striving to do that in my studies. The article is good and really drives home this truth:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)
As I continued reading, the writer referenced the following:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (emphasis added, John 10:10 NIV)
I know I’ve heard this scripture umpteen times in the course of my life. Usually the point of the sermon is Jesus as the Good Shepherd, that the sheep know his voice and will not follow a stranger. It’s an excellent teaching, of course, but I think the Lord was really drawing my attention to something else this time. The word “only” grabbed my attention and pulled me down that rabbit trail.
It’s been my observation (and I say this with sincere concern, not judgment) that we, as followers of Jesus, sometimes let our guard down when it comes to supposedly “harmless” things. We open doors to things that weaken, and eventually replace our commitment to Jesus, and each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. While there are plenty of areas where this happens, one that’s been heavy on my heart (and it relates specifically to the article I was reading), is entertainment with roots in both the occult and pornography. Walk into any bookstore, check out any theater movie schedule, peruse the current popular video/card games and find the choices rife with vampires, witches, witchcraft, etc., most of which are aimed at children, teenagers, and young adults. The excuses made are “if it gets them reading, it’s okay!” and “it’s just make-believe.”
I can’t say whether there are really vampires and witches like those of the movies and books, but I do know that there are evil spirits behind these things — evil spirits that seek to steal and kill and destroy… While “adult” books and movies are marketed toward the “older” population, access to these materials is becoming less and less difficult to obtain by younger people. Bodice-ripper novels are “epic in scope and usually featuring more violent sexual content, bodice rippers are the books that ushered in the era of the modern romance novel.” (Defined by Goodreads, italics added.) Movies like Fifty Shades of Grey twist our views of healthy relationships between men and women. Never mind scriptural definitions of man/woman relationships — any decent psychologist will tell you these are not healthy relationships.
The thief in John 10:10 isn’t interested in getting young people reading or entertaining us in a “harmless” way. The books that get our kids reading, the movies that entertain us for a couple of hours and lighten our wallets by $40 are merely the tools by which the thief steals and kills and destroys, and that is the thief’s ONLY purpose.
Before anyone reading this rants and raves about censorship and narrow-minded legalism, I’d like to offer up this: brush up on your skills of discernment. Ask the Lord to show you what is good and profitable for your relationship with him. When you read a book, are you encouraged at the end? Do you feel stronger in your relationship with God, or are you embarrassed to know that he knows you read that book? And he does, you know.