Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Temple Of The Mind

"So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”  Matthew 15:16-20

A few weeks ago I talked at great length about the temple of the body, and how we really need to start paying attention to the foods that we are consuming.   That blog post has sparked quite a few good conversations since then, and it's also helped me to stay focused and aware of what I am eating- and what my family is eating.

But I felt like I left that post a little open-ended, because as important as I think watching what we eat is, I think it's equally important to guard the temples of our minds.  Jesus talked up above in Matthew about the things that come out of a persons heart.  He said that it's the evil thoughts and feelings that come out that defile a man, and that had me thinking...where do these thoughts come from in the first place?  Why, they come from what we take in in the first place.  The come from movies, and TV shows, and books, and websites, and magazines, and on and on and on.  They come from media, and we need to be vigilant on the things that we are  exposing our hearts and minds to- and they hearts and minds of our children.

I know there are plenty of movements out there of groups of people who eschew media altogether, and maybe for some people it takes that amount of extremism to keep from watching the bad stuff, but really, it's all about the choices we make when we do take the time to partake in one of the many forms of entertainment here on earth.  I think God likes us to be entertained, He loves seeing my family sitting down for a movie night and enjoying each others company.  But He wants us to be careful in our movie selection.

One that immediately comes to mind is scary movies.  Thrillers, suspense mysteries, and even some superhero movies kind of cross that line, and I happen to think that maybe those are the movies that we Christians especially need to avoid.  Why?  Because fear- the feeling that comes out when watching these movies- is not from God.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  2 Timothy 1:7

In fact, that applies to books as well.  If we're reading a book, and we suddenly find our hearts racing, and we're peering over the book feeling a little afraid- for even a moment- that may be a clue that we need to put that book down and leave it down. 

Now, I'm not saying that we should only be reading books that come from the Christian bookstore, or only watching movies with a Christian slant, because lets face it, there's not a whole lot out there yet that is of a really good quality.  I also think the library shelves are filled with wonderful stories and classic literature that doesn't fill the mind and heart with yuck, but I do think we need to be better on our guard. 

My son has a great affinity for Star Wars.  He comes by that honestly, because I've always been a huge fan, but I do keep an eye on his Star Wars play, and the things that he takes away from it.  He'll watch the movies over and over, read books, play video games, and then play-act many of the scenes.  But within the context of Star Wars, there's also an element of the supernatural with "the force" that if it is dwelled on too much, and skewed in just the right way, it could cause spiritual problems at some point.  I love that my son enjoys the fictional world of Star Wars, and he does understand that it is all pretend and fiction, but if at any point he started displaying actions that indicated that he was processing what he was taking in as real and fact, we would have to cut the Star Wars out. 

I just think that it's important as much as possible, that we keep our minds on things from above.

"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."  Colossians 3:2

Set your mind on things above.  What do you think after you've watched a great movie or a great book?  Do you know, there is a series of books that I've been enjoying immensely- it is easily one of the best written works of fiction I've ever read.  Every time I finish one of the books, I think about the author, who has since passed away, and I think that God really blessed him as an amazing storyteller.  He never even finished the series of books that he started, and when he died, I thought that God must have some great work for him to do in heaven.  And yet, the books he wrote had no Christian slant to them, there was no scripture, no moral values- just an amazing story.  But when I put one of his books down, I feel like I truly enjoyed something, and I can set my mind on things above and thank God for gifted writers who can entertain us so well with words.

We need to be vigilant on the things that we allow to enter our mind and our heart.  There is so much media out there that is wonderful and exciting, and when we walk away from a book or a movie or a TV show, it should be with a feeling in our heart of happiness or joy- because we just had a nice entertainment experience.  If we walk away with feelings of fear, or anxiety, we need to rethink what we just did, and see that we don't let it happen again.

God wants our whole temple to be on a firm foundation- and that includes our heart and our minds which can be greatly affected by the media that we allow ourselves to experience.  Let's set our minds on things above, and with that mindset, we can find it much easier to be on guard, and to keep our temples whole and solid.

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