Yep, I am making up words again. This week: Mediapalooza. Some Christians think the media is the worst thing in the world – fighting against God and the church and everything that is good. “Media is the devil!” Other Christians live like media is the greatest gift – keeping up on every piece of pop culture no matter what sex, greed, or corruption is inside. “You gotta stay relevant, ya know!”
The thing is, media isn’t good or bad. Media is the middle. The word “media” is the plural of “medium”. There are messages that people are sending – through the “mediums” of tv, apps, radio, etc. The mediums are neutral – it is the message of people that may be corrupt. Jesus, declaring all food clean, said “From within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:21-23). Now in the west we put those things in the media and call it “good entertainment”!
The media itself isn’t the blame – it is the people who make the messages, and the people who take it in – that includes us. We are told not to participate in greed, sexual immorality, or impurity (Ephesians 5:3-7). Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look with lust upon a woman (Job 31:1). We would do well to make such covenants with our eyes and ears. The Bible also tells us to fix our thoughts on what is pure and good and lovely and admirable – things of true beauty and worth – and then we will experience the peace of God (Philippians 4:8-9). So many are longing for God’s peace. Part of the reason is that we put great worth on things that are immoral and selfish.
One of my friends was teaching some teenagers about having filters in your mind (a good lesson) when approaching the media. He handed out some brownies – and the youth were excited! Before anyone took a bite, though, he told them that he had added an extra ingredient – some dog poop. It was just a little, and you probably wouldn’t taste it. I wish I could say that no one ate any – but a couple of boys had a bite! (It’s ok – he later told them it was Spam he had added in! Still gross.) The point was clear – the chocolate and sugar could hide the taste of something that was disgusting. Many people use the tools of the media – humor, lighting, art, action – to hide a very distasteful message. We love the entertainment, and aren’t aware of the spam (or excrement) that we are swallowing.
The solution is not to slam the media, nor is it to swallow it without thinking. We need to watch the media with Jesus, and use our minds to know how to interact with the messages, and when to just turn it off. There is a lot of noise in our world, sometimes we need a bit of silence.
We also need to contribute to media. As Christians we should be creative, and contribute to the messages going out in our world. There are many Christians in media, using their God-given gifts for good. We should support them, and join them in making media and art – sharing messages of hope.
It is a world of Mediapalooza. Don’t hate or love media – it is just the medium. Understand the messages, see through the noise, and know when to turn it off. And add to the art – creatively sharing God’s love and hope to a world that is desperately longing.