The other day I happened to see a bit of a documentary about The Beatles and, in particular, George Harrison (I realize our younger readers actually may not know who I am talking about–look it up!). What I saw was profoundly sad. It was a painful reminder of those who gain the whole world and yet forfeit their souls. But what has stuck with me since then is not that lesson, but another. I realized while watching the documentary, which included many songs which I knew and loved as a young man, that though I was sad, I was neither grieved nor shocked. Let me explain what I mean. My 1964 “Reformed and Baptistic” counterpart who loved God and treasured holiness could not have listened to the music I happily submitted myself to. Songs which now seem quaint and catchy were at that time viewed by the Christian community as a moral outrage and threat to the very fabric our society. Imagine how my 1957 counterpart felt knowing that church members were watching Elvis “The Pelvis” thrusting (though largely hidden by clever camera angles) on national television. He may have wept with the thought of what it was doing to the young people of his church and bewailed such from the pulpit. I, on the other hand, find it somewhat funny. Was there something wrong with my counterpart or with me? Was he simply a man of his time trapped with a temporary view of morality or am I the one whose conscience has been rubbed raw?
Let’s go back a few more years to 1946, the year that one of my favorite films was released, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Great movie, right? I own it. I’ve show it to my kids. But what did the God-fearing preacher of 1946 feel about 1) his people seeing a movie 2) one with such bad theology 3) some rather ‘scandalous’ for its time views of men leering at women.
Why don’t I weep? Why did he?
The Beatles once mused about what their lives would be like when they were 64. I am some fifteen years away from reaching that age. I wonder what my 2027 counterpart will gladly embrace that I grieve over.
I have long felt that the Christian community is bound to the world by a “ten year” tether. We simply follow behind and embrace what they once left behind. Is that a honorable way of determining how to please God and fear Him? I fear that the tether is shrinking, we are no longer ten years behind the times, but right up there with our secular counterparts. Some of us want to surpass them. Is Christian ‘morality’ anchored to anything or is it a beachball on the waves? Here one moment and gone the next. The world in which we live is not as neutral as many of our contemporaries are proclaiming. Christ came to deliver us not only from our sins and the wrath of God, but from ‘this present evil age’. He died in order to create for Himself a people who are distinct and different in ways that could actually be observed. Am I too much a man of my time? Am I too caught up with the present form of evil or am I too compromised?