Tearing Down the Netflix Idol
“No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:33-36, NLT)
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that youth LOVE talking about Netflix. It seems like every week they come to meetings and discuss what they’ve been watching, quote funny or notable parts, and hash out their fan theories. Recently, one show in particular dominated their weekly Netflix review. Upon finding out I had no opinion to add because I don’t watch it, they wanted to know why. Usually, I’m up on stuff like that, so for me to say, “Oh, I don’t watch that, and I don’t plan on it,” was a rare occurrence.
The truth is, tons of people recommended the show, but just as many suggested that it wasn’t the best program to entertain because of its crude language, highly-sexual content, and its tendency to dabble in some uncomfortable subject matter. As highly recommended and well written as this show might be, I felt convicted to not even entertain it.
This opens up a larger conversation: if that still, small voice tells you not to take part in a certain aspect of popular culture, do you listen? And if you really think about it, how much of your music, movie, and television preferences flat-out defy God?
The world has a way of twisting things: “Sure, this TV show has a ton of sex scenes, but it’s so well written. That’s why everyone watches it.” “Yeah, this music artist curses every other line, but his beats are sick.” “I can’t play that video game with my family around, but gore doesn’t bother me.” There is no other way to say it: the world wants you to take in sexual content, crude language, violence, drug and alcohol habits, and all the hopelessness that comes along with it. Satan, who pulls all the strings in this world wants this so badly, that he’ll wrap these stumbling blocks in addictive, attractive, and seemingly harmless media, knowing that we will excuse the bad in order to partake. The trap is, you can’t watch the good without also bearing with the temptation.
The Bible, however, is very clear. Our eyes are the gateway to our souls and our spirits. What we allow ourselves to view is what we inevitably allow ourselves to be. If we partake in content that we know is of this world, we will inevitably find ourselves separated from God. Light cannot coexist with darkness. One drives the other out. In the same way, if we’re allowing ourselves to binge watch and drown ourselves in content that displeases God, then we shouldn’t be surprised when we look around and realize that God stopped communicating with us.
Look, I know that I’m far from perfect. I’ve watched and listened to things that I had no business to be around while calling myself a Christian. I used to love watching a certain horror television show because my friends all watched it and it kept me on my toes. But a few years ago, I turned it on and was about halfway through an episode when the Holy Spirit clearly said these words to me: “This is not for you.”
Immediately, I felt convicted, and I turned it off. I haven’t watched it since, and you know what? I don’t even miss the social aspect that used to be half the appeal of watching it. Why? Being closer to the Lord is worth more than any conversation I might be left out of, and once you stop repeatedly allowing something like that in your life, it loses its addictive quality over your mind.
Once you let go of the darkness and let God’s light take up more and more space, you realize that worldly entertainment clogs up your ears from hearing from God and influences the things you say. Ultimately, I let the conviction of watching that show drive me to continue letting go. I asked the Lord to make me sensitive to media and content that was pushing me away from Him. Since then, I’ve deleted songs from playlists and shows from watchlists, and once I stopped entertaining the world, I started hearing from God.
Now you might be saying: easier said than done, to which I have to give you some tough love. You know what the Bible says. It’s written plain as day at the top of this devotion. Now you have to be accountable to it. If you really find yourself struggling to let go of that music or that movie series, then ask God to help you see it the way He sees it. Ask Him to break your heart for what breaks His; He can change your attachment to that thing.
You might also be saying: Well, I don’t feel that anything I watch or listen to is bad. I think you might be surprised if you really examined what it is you invest your time into. I encourage you to ask God to convict you to remove the things that displease Him and dim your light. Be warned: do not mistake your conviction for condemnation. There is a difference. Condemnation takes us out of the game and renders us as fruitless to the Kingdom of God. Condemnation springs from our personal shame, and binds us to the guilt over a certain action. It acts as a cinderblock anklet dragging us down to the ocean floor, ensuring that we will never accomplish what God has for us as long as we hold onto that shame.
Conviction drives us to positive action. If God convicts you, the key is to not feel ashamed, instead feel encouraged that you’re hearing from the Lord enough to know that you have to make a change. Use conviction to adjust and change your daily routine, which will ultimately give you a new parameter to live a better, more Spirit-filled life.
Living a life that glorifies God is a constant choice that happens day by day. Don’t let Satan fool you with popular culture. Instead, aspire to be the one that changes the culture around you and brings it closer to Jesus.
Dear God, I want to hear and see you more clearly. Help me to stop entertaining things that darken my light and separate me from you. Drive me to action by convicting me to get rid of those things that break your heart and challenge me to invest my time more wisely. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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