3 Ways to Think of Pop Culture as Tools instead of Traps
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
What do Snow White, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones have in common?
If you said, “they are stories that teach us about Jesus,” you’re right!
Relax! I didn't say these stories ARE about Jesus. I said they CAN TEACH us about Jesus, and that, shocking though it may be, is the truth.
In a world surrounded and saturated in stories, pop culture can either be a tool you use to hang on to the truth, or a trap, pulling you down in deceit and sin.
Pop Culture is Made Up by the Stories We Tell
Human beings have been telling stories since the dawn of time. Our methods have changed a bit, from campfires and star gazing to screens of all shapes and sizes, but the principal remains. Stories are how we organize and make sense of information.
Jesus knew this (being the ultimate author!). He revealed the unknowable mystery of God through the stories of the ancient Hebrew people. During his time on earth he told parables, short stories, to teach spiritual truths, and he used common, everyday objects and events to anchor those stories in the minds of his students.
Consider the birds…the lilies of the field …the fig tree...you have heard it said…
I wonder if Jesus would tell my kids, “Do you see Scoobie Doo? He is always hungry for Scoobie Snacks. Did you know I can give you food that will really fill you up. I am the bread of life.”
It’s a silly example, I know. But if thinking about a cartoon dog can help my children understand how deeply satisfying Jesus is then I say Scoobie Doobie Doo!
1. We can use pop culture to spark conversation.
Remember those after school special episodes? Like when Jessie Spano used drugs on Saved by the Bell? When the show was over the actors would address their vieweres, reminding them that “this” is a real, serious issue and help is available.
We don’t need to turn every moment into an afterschool special conversation, but we can use the things we read and watch as springboards to topics that may not come up in the regular activities of life.
2. We can use pop culture to connect.
Stories provide us with common ground. Most issues are too complicated black and white judgement. You have to walk a mile in someone's shoes to know them, right? When we experience something through the eyes of a character, we have the distance to see things as more nuanced. We can ask questions and wonder, what would we do in those circumstances?
3. We can use pop culture to teach the Gospel Story
The Gospel, the good news found in the Bible, is that this once perfect, now broken world is not doomed, but redeemed through Jesus Christ and will someday be fully restored. This basic storyline pops up in some form or fashion in every story. As you study the Bible and grow in knowledge of the truth, you’ll start seeing these themes everywhere – even when you’re weeding!
Oh be careful little eyes!
Like so many good things in this world, the same pop culture that can be useful, even beneficial to our spiritual growth can be corrupted. We can burry our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not there, but that doesn’t actually mean it goes away. Instead we need to exercise sound judgement. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages believers to dwell on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable. So let the stories in this world point you to Jesus and do just that.
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