Lessons from Miley, Katy, and More
The headlines are too common and the stories increasingly sad. Some young talented preteen hits the Hollywood radar. They’ve been reared in a home with solid Christian principles. Early on, these young rising prodigies are outspoken about their love for God, respect for family, and desire to live a wholesome life.
Fast forward. Miley Cyrus, raised in a Christian home and previously vocal about her faith, steals the spotlight at the recent VMA awards with obscene sexual gestures that contradict all that is moral. Katy Perry, brought up by devoted Christian parents, explodes her fame with her song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Justin Beiber, raised in a solid evangelical home, is constantly in the spotlight teetering between a genuine, outspoken faith and behavior that reflects the creeping contamination of the world’s value system.
The older generation remembers Bob Dylan’s Christian albums when he meandered into the “born again” stream as many others have – sporadically and superficially – over the years. Other names like B.J. Thomas and Glen Campbell ring with the same confusing tune.
How do we explain this “on again, off again” Christian faith in high profile individuals? More importantly, how do we understand it in the lives of people we know? Most urgently, how do we guard against it in our own lives?
Superficial Profession – The deceptions of the heart and the inoculation of a religious environment can conspire to give someone a false sense of faith. Sometimes we are motivated to “fit in” to the church-centered surroundings because it seems wholesome, right, and expected. In other cases, we conform to legalistic standards, which are a cheap replacement of a genuine relationship with Christ. On other occasions, we become activists, trying to earn our standing with God by our own works of service. None of these can produce the real spiritual fruit of a transformed heart.
Destructive Associations – All of us can be susceptible to the influence of ungodly people. It is essential that we associate with people far from Christ for the sake of reaching them with the power of the Gospel. Sadly, the influence sometimes can flow in reverse as a genuine believer elevates ungodly attitudes, speech, and values above the truth of the Scripture. Proverbs 13:20 still rings true: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
Worldly Creep – In His parable about the sower, the seed, and the soils, Jesus described a common danger for many believers today. He said, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Like an undetected toxin in drinking water, the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” can infiltrate the soul of an unthinking Christian who begins to value the temporal over the eternal. Soon, truth is minimized and the flesh rules the heart and mind. Disaster strikes sure.
These realities compel us to keep a close watch on our soul. Proverbs 22:5 says, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.” Earlier in his wisdom book, Solomon wrote, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). In a call to a holy life, the writer of Hebrews challenges us, “…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). I would suggest we keep careful watch in three areas:
Watch your fruit – Jesus clarified the core reality of a genuine faith: “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit , nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43-44). Regardless of how many times a person has “gone forward” at a crusade or the number of years they have attended church, the only genuine evidence of a converted heart is godly, Christ-honoring fruit. Galatians describes the evidence of the indwelling Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” If these are not the consistent desire and demonstration in one’s life, there is probably a real need to turn to Christ for a truly born-again experience that will transform the life.
Watch your input – We’ve heard many times, “Garbage in, garbage out.” No matter how seasoned a believer may be, allowing worldly input to outweigh truth and godly input puts a soul in danger. Too many Christians spend countless hours in front of the television and minimal time in the Scriptures. It’s no surprise that they are spiritually shallow, are fleshly in their behavior, and show little evidence of the things of the Gospel.
Watch your associations – In describing the life of integrity, David said this person is one “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD” (Psalm 15:4). Too many Christians in today’s world elevate ungodly celebrities, business people, or associates as heroes. We all eventually emulate those we admire. God’s criteria are that our “most admired” list is composed of those who fear the Lord and walk in the ways of truth.
Eyes on Jesus
Whether your current distress is over celebrities gone bad, friends gone astray, or your own heart gone cold – it is imperative that you keep your eyes on Jesus. He is the only one who will never disappoint or betray your faith. He is the “author and finisher” of our faith. He is able to keep the heart warm to His truth and Spirit as we rely on His enabling grace. Regardless of the erratic and deplorable behavior of others, we can run our own race with endurance and consistency in a world abounding in disappointing news.
Copyright © 2013 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.