When I was fourteen my pastor introduced me to a radical concept. It was radical for me because I was what you might call a television junkie. I loved all those shows that people now call “vintage.” Growing up, my typical day was filled with several hours vegging in front of the T.V.
Things changed when my pastor issued a challenge to me one day. He challenged me to use Philippians 4:8 as my guide for what I filled my head with. He challenged me to place my music, television programs, books, magazines, and even my conversations, through the grid of Philippians 4:8 and see if they fit the criteria of things that would help me grow in my relationship with Christ. If Internet would’ve been around back then I’m sure he would’ve thrown that into the mix.
A Stunning Revelation
I looked up Philippians 4:8 in my Bible and sat there stunned for a few minutes as I considered what this would mean . . . what this would look like in my life. This spelled it out pretty clearly for me:
[box]Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.[/box]
I determined to take his challenge seriously and it made an immediate impact. I found that it radically cut my television watching time, I got rid of some of my music, I chose to exit certain conversations. Basically my time, thought life, and attitude was dramatically altered. It may sound like it was a “legalistic” approach to life, but for me it wasn’t a box of “self-righteous living” I was checking off for some kind of spiritual brownie points. No, for me it was a way of growing in Christ and I desperately wanted that.
See, what I realized shortly after I took on his challenge was that I had a lot more time (a LOT MORE time) for other things . . . like getting into the Word, starting a Bible study at my public high school, reading good books, and building discipling relationships. Not only did I have more time, but the stuff going on in my head was different. My desires were also changing . . . I was hungry for God’s Word, couldn’t get enough of it. And I was actually growing in my walk with the Lord.
I was experiencing God at work in my life like never before!
I count taking up my pastor on his challenge as one of the most significant spiritual markers in my life. For decades now, this verse has served me well as my guideline for what I fill my head and soul with. As a teen I realized how much time I’d already wasted binging on the junk that the culture offered for entertainment and I remember drawing a line in the sand and saying, “No more! I’m not going to live for lesser things! I’m going to pursue what will draw me closer to Christ!”
I’ve never regretted that choice.
What about you? Are there areas in your life that may be dragging you down spiritually? Wasting your life and killing your spiritual desires? Zapping your spiritual life and spoiling your spiritual hunger?
How about taking on my pastor’s challenge to a life change?
Adapted from my blog post 09.17.13 at beyondbathtime.com