The Story Our Culture Needs

by Tim Sohn

Every Monday night at 9pm I end up with a dilemma. Do I record Heroes on NBC, or 24 on Fox? Tuesday nights are American Idol. Wednesday nights feature the results of the votes for the previous days American Idol. Thursday is NBC’s Must See TV where all of America enjoys seeing awkwardness to the extreme in The Office. I never seem to know what’s on Friday nights because ever since ABC’s old school TGIF lineup went down the drain (and I started going to church) I stopped paying attention. In a world that is incredibly saturated by the media, it’s easy to simply come home plop on the couch and absorb everything the tube has to offer. As Christians we are called to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2)”, which means that the way we view the media, entertainment, and our culture needs to be from a biblically-based worldview. A worldview is a set of beliefs so basic, that everything else is seen through that grid. In a nutshell, this means seeing the world as corrupt, trying to alleviate its prob lems through moralistic means, and in need of the Gospel of Grace. As Christians, we need to express discernment as we look at the culture around us and understand what ideas fall in line with biblical teaching, and what does not. In fact, a TV show that expresses a world that is messed up, sinful, and in desperate need of restoration is more biblical than some moralistic “be a good person” messages that we hear from some Christian mediums. The media often shares a message, attempts to ask and provide answers to questions that affect the human soul. In essence, a story is being told. Often these stories reflect a world that longs for Jesus. Our aim in expressing discernment is so that we can understand the culture around us, and use the stories that are told through movies, TV shows, and music to share the most magnificent story of a King coming to save and redeem His people.

Many of the themes we see in our culture that attract us are related to redemption, finding identity, or discovering significance. When we see characters fail, but triumph in the end, we are elated that redemption has occurred. We often find superheroes discovering their abilities through some stage of adolescence, and struggling to find their identity with everyone else in the world. Only when they begin to discover others like them, such as in the X-men saga, do they feel a sense of belonging and community. In the recent hit show, Heroes, each of the individual heroes is trying to find their significance in the greater story of saving the world. The questions they ask are “how do I fit in?” and “what should I use my powers for?” I believe that we are attracted to these types of stories, because all of us in some way identify with them and want to experience them indirectly. The questions that many characters ask in superhero stories are the same ones that we ask. Who am I? Why am I here? In superhero stories we always see someone who is trying to “save the world” and restore order. Superheroes fight crime, combat injustice, and protect the weak. In many ways, these stories reflect a culture longing for things to be made right, and for sin in people’s hearts to be eradicated. What our culture reflects in these stories is a longing for a world that is peaceful and happy; a world that is joyful and where life is enjoyable.

The truth that our world longs for and needs is Jesus. Jesus is the only one in whom we find the real story of redemption. A story about God Himself, condescending to earth to restore the brokenness in our world. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross we can be first and foremost reconciled to God, and also reconciled to each other to the world around us. In Jesus we can find our true identity as His child, and a community of people who He calls His own. Only through Jesus can we find true significance and labor for something greater than ourselves, the expansion of God’s kingdom throughout the world. Every story that our culture tells through the media always finds a solution that isn’t quite big enough. Our minds are fascinated, our hearts are captivated, but the world that is displayed isn’t real. Yet, we want it to be. There is always a way to take a story, understand the themes and questions that are being asked, and show how the real answer to the story about humans is found in Jesus. In Jesus we find the God that we really crave, and the God that we really need. He is the only one that can make the world right, and deal with the problems that we see in us.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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