I was asked last weekend, “What is holding you captive?”
The verb captivate is powerful and can be both positive and negative.
You can be captivated by God’s beauty; taken aback by holding your little baby in your arms; amazed by the blessings you’ve been given.
Or your joy can be taken captive. Your purpose. Your light.
Pulled like a thread, slowly and slowly until before you know it there is a gaping hole.
You’re taken captive by the world – instead of being captivated by God’s Great Grace.
Your God joy – your real life joy – is shadowed by something. So quickly and so easily it happens.
A little thrill in rebellion. The obsessions, the possessions, the lust, the greed – the quick and heavy ounces of fun. Discontentment.
The I want to look good, I want to feel good, I want it, I want it, give it to me now.
Just a little bit is harmless - a classic lie that tugs on that thread.
Just a little bit is impossible. The little bit leads you to a gaping hole.
As I sat thinking about my shadowed joy, the pastor asked the crowd if we felt more like a pond or a river.
Oh how I want to be a river. Spirit flowing. Free. Joy. Beautiful.
Ponds are disgusting. But I felt like a pond.
Sitting murky, luke warm.
Maybe I started out clear, but overtime I’ve just grown more and more mildew and scum.
How did I get to this pond? When nothing good is pouring into me, nothing good will pour out.
These questions and convictions all came at the same time that the Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer was released.
The worlds bait. The lion on the prawl.
I watched it.
I was brought back to the feelings I had after reading the books. Yes, I read the books, too.
And after both, I asked myself, “Why?”
Reviewers callled Fifty Shades "haunting," and that it was. It lingered with me for weeks.
Why did I choose to fill my precious time and thoughts that should be fixed on good things, pure things, on something else?
The bait, I took it.
The thread, I pulled it.
Because of curiosity. Because it’s not a big deal.
Christian or not – movies, books, music, and what or who we surround ourselves with can be incredibly destructive.
Maybe not all at once, but small compromises, bait-after-bait, will lead us to the lion’s mouth.
According to faith and culture research experts, the Barna Group, Christian women read as many sex stories as non-Christian women.
Nine percent of practicing Christians – the same percentage as those in the study not identifying themselves as Christian – admit to having read Fifty Shades.
Just a little bit of curiosity.
“Reading erotica and fantasy romance can set our husbands up for failure and leave us feeling unsatisfied. Suddenly our husbands just aren’t as romantic as we want them to be, “ said writer and blogger Natalie Snapp.
In Snapp’s article Reading Between the Lines she posted a woman’s response to Fifty Shades:
“I’m divorced. Erotica and extramarital relations played a role in that divorce. To move beyond finding satisfaction in what God designed with intended intimacy is very harmful and distracts us from what should be very beautiful. It cheapens and weakens the relationship by planting seeds of doubt and division.”
Doubt – yes, that bait.
Division – yes, that lion.
It’s just that little bit or thinking it isn’t a big deal. Satan is the one out there telling me and telling you that it isn’t and leading us astray (Revelation 12:9).
In an except from Pulling Back the Shades, authors Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery say, “The problem is not erotica – the problem is that we want to read it. Our world is always going to offer us salacious temptation… something is terribly wrong when Christian women embrace it.”
“…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.” (Philippians 4:8)
We are given that simple instruction so that we can have the best and healthiest self and relationships possible.
Not taking part in books or movies such as Fifty Shades is not a claim to be righteous, the perfect Christian or living this expectation of being ultra conservative – it is simply making a choice to use your time and your mind on productive things verses possibly destructive things.
Like that river, what we take in will also flow out.
As for me, and I hope for you, let’s take time to think about what we are watching, listening to and surrounding ourselves with. Is it to better our lives? If it isn’t, what is the point? Could it be destructive to our lives? Maybe it isn't so destructive to us, but could our participation in something affect those around us?
Let’s take time to choose to be captivated by God’s good things, His grace, and not taken captive by the world.
“…we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Additional excerpts and information from Life: Beautiful magazine, summer 2014 issue
When nothing good is pouring into me, nothing good will pour out.