You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned
Don’t drag your pre-existing philosophies and politics into Christianity.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a conservative, politically speaking. Okay, technically, that’s not 100% true. There was a large portion of my childhood where I was clearly apolitical. It wasn’t really until my early teens that I knew I was a mild-to-moderate fan of President Ronald Reagan.
The period from the rest of my teenage years through all of my twenties is when I really developed politically. I had known how the “big picture” was in American politics, as I figured out that all politicians, from the local level all the way up to the White House, were at least a tiny bit corrupted, if not being completely inexorable megalomaniacs.
Yet ideologically speaking, I believed more in conservatism than liberalism.
I can certainly understand it if someone has grown up believing in and clinging to the liberal side of the political spectrum for dear life. There are some of the basic, overlying reasons that certain Americans are enticed by liberalism. One, it appeals to the core feelings younger citizens have in that they want to help out their fellow man, as the liberal ideology is more socialist and communistic in tone. Young people are generally more activist in nature, so there will always physically be more liberal movements, protests, and vocalizations. Second, they’re taught that “the establishment” is overstuffed with greedy, rich, white capitalists, and they want to make “the powers that be” be a more diverse, more equal-opportunity assortment of people. Third, the American media, the entertainment industry and Academia has had a liberal/Democratic slant for decades (this media bias has been proven in study after study; even the liberal hosts of Freakonomics had to concede to it when they took on the subject), and younger people are more impressionable, therefore more susceptible to their messages, and it’s not until their later years that a lot of them realize that: one, they’re being lied to; and two, that liberalism might not be all it’s cracked up to be in a democratic/representative republic or free market society.
That last sentiment is summed up pretty well in a quote that’s often been attributed to Winston Churchill: “Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.”
I didn’t bring up all of the above to start yet another conservative versus liberal war. This whole article is not going to be an essay on the pros and cons of each, or which one you as a Christian you should believe in more.
Instead, at this point, I will tell you that your political (and philosophical) persuasion should be…neither of the above.
First and foremost, you are a Christian. Jesus is Numero Uno. “Seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33). Everything else should be secondary or tertiary to it. We are not called to be be some bizarre hybrid of “Christian/Conservative” or “Christian/Progressive/Social Justice Warrior.” Your political beliefs, your social affiliations, and even your national identity should never get equal billing to being a born-again believer washed by the blood of Jesus.
Being a new creation in Christ, there are no compromises. There is no weird bending, twisting, or retrofitting of the beliefs you had before you accepted Jesus to fit your now new Christian worldview. We are to follow God and the Bible alone. Christ is the ultimate authority in all things. PERIOD. If there was anything you believed, any type of reasoning, any type of wisdom, any paradigm at all…if the teachings of the Bible tell you otherwise, then you must ditch your pre-conceived worldly beliefs, no matter what form they take.
As the great Jedi Master Yoda once told his disciple Luke Skywalker, “you must unlearn what you have learned.”
I think this is one of the most difficult things for modern Western Christians, especially here in the United States, to come to grips with. Digging in with all of your strength and clinging to these non-Christian perspectives is only going to hold you back in your spiritual walk with Jesus. As an obedient child of God, you must do it His way, and think of doing things in this world with an eternal, heavenly perspective.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very fortunate to have been born in the United States of America and have been afforded many freedoms by living here. God has blessed our nation greatly. I’m a patriotic American, I will salute our flag, and I will even fight to preserve the freedoms we have.
But Christ comes first.
Even outside of politics, there are a plethora of other ideas, worldviews and mores slinking about and permeating Western society. We must abandon all of them in favor of what is written in God’s Word.
Here are a few examples:
Maybe you’ve been taught to believe in a “karma” or “revenge” philosophy.
We can watch an online video of a road rager who angrily cuts someone off on the highway, only to get himself in a nasty wreck. We cheer and mentally “fist pump” because the crazy driver “got what was coming to him.” Or perhaps some perpetrator was caught in a crime, and as we read about it, we as a society jump aboard the comments section screaming that he or she is a “piece of $%&@.” I’ve even seen some so-called Christians relishing in a recent convicted murderer’s suicide and proclaiming, “Good riddance! I hope he burns in hell!”
Brothers and sisters, is this how a Christian should act and feel?!? Remember, we were no better than these individuals were. We were ALL sinners, fallen short of God’s ideal (Romans 3:23). We were ALL guilty and deserving of eternal damnation, separated from God. James 2:10 states, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
We are to be forgiving and loving to all people, so matter who they are, and see them as creatures who need redemption from sin by personally accepting Jesus.
Self-love, self-esteem, and believing in yourself.
This garbage about loving one’s self has made inroads from psychology, the self-help and human potential movements in the past three or four decades, and is one of the most dangerous messages to ever infiltrate the church. And it’s tempting to hold on to this belief system because it sounds pleasing to the ears. It sounds so upbeat and motivational and positive, doesn’t it? You might think, “hey, all they’re trying to do is help people and be uplifting! How can that be wrong?” In the past, I have even shared some of these messages myself, unfortunately. Ultimately, it is wrong.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self…” – 2 Timothy 3:1-2
Make no mistake about it – ths definitely an old concept. In fact, pride, selfishness and believing in ourselves instead of God can be traced right back to the Garden of Eden where Eve was tricked by Satan’s lie that she could “be like God” – Genesis 3:5.
Pride, egotism and loving self is one of the most talked about sins in the Bible, especially in the Book of Proverbs (take a gander at Proverbs 8:13, Proverbs 11:2, Proverbs 16:18-19, Proverbs 26:12, and Proverbs 29:23, for starters.)
It’s humility that God is looking for; a dying of one’s self every and instead taking up the cross of Christ. Jesus said, “take up your cross and follow Me” – Matthew 16:24.
“What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” – 1 Peter 5:5
“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” – Proverbs 18:12
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” – Philippians 2:3
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5
“[The Lord said] ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 2:9
I could go on and on posting verse after verse on this subject. But I pray that you get the point.
Our culture has become unbelievably super-saturated with the deadly philosophies of self-love and self-reliance. So carefully watch what your favorite motivational speaker, a beloved Christian author or “celebrity,” or that “spiritual” friend on Facebook are saying. That line of reasoning only serves to put our focus on ourselves instead of on God. The sin of self and pride have no place in our lives. Get rid of it from your mind. “Unlearn” it. Humility and total and complete reliance in the Lord Jesus Christ are required in our walk as Christians.
Some of us are still “trying to keep up with the Joneses,” focus on material gain and still attempt to acquire “the American Dream.”
Boy, if there’s anything ingrained in us Americans, it’s this!
David Platt and his book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream has done an excellent job at exposing the American church’s obsession with self-indulgence and living “the good life.” Instead of doing this, we all should heed God’s calling to die of ourselves every day. I think Radical is one of the top ten books we Christians here in the Western world need to read.
If you don’t have that book, the concepts are simple, yet challenge us to the core. Don’t let the pursuit of money and material things get in the way of God (1 Timothy 6:10, Matthew 6:21-24, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Hebrews 13:5). Don’t become complacent or lukewarm in your faith (Revelation 3:16). Live boldly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:28-29), and risk it all for Him. Give your money, your time, your attention to serving others, and reach out the way Christ has commanded us. What if Jesus told you right this very minute that you should sell everything you have and move to a third world country to do missions – would you be obedient to His calling?
Far too many of us (myself included, admittedly) are not doing enough of this.
Are you still consuming secular entertainment?
I love music and great TV shows and epic films just like anybody. Storytelling and musical art is one of the wonderful ways we as humans can express emotions and teach each other lessons. Even Jesus used often fictional stories called parables to teach very real truths about God’s Kingdom. The ability to produce songs and stories, I think, are some of the greatest gifts God has given the human race as a whole.
The sad truth is, the modern secular entertainment industry has a near monopoly on visual and audio media being pumped out today, in terms of dollars, ratings and shear volume of material produced (thank God for the available alternative avenues of Christian music and movies!). With it, the messages and belief systems promoted in them are not only becoming increasingly non-Christian, but blatantly anti-Christian.
Ironically, I’ve even added a scene and quote from The Empire Strikes Back above, but that was to make a point of eradicating worldly influence and instead be under the influence of the Almighty.
When we aren’t sleeping, working or eating (and very often, when we are doing those things!), how many of us lives in homes where the TV is turned on constantly, consuming hours of online videos, or have the radio blasting when we’re in the car?
The overwhelming majority of us have been fed on a heavy diet tens of thousands of hours of secular entertainment since we’ve been babies. The stories, quotes, songs, characters, lyrics, settings, images, and values promoted by all of that have shaped us into who we are today. The TV screen, the movie screen, the radio speakers, the headphone/ear bud speakers, and now our computer, tablet and smartphone screens have influenced and affected us more in our lives than probably any other factor, except for maybe our parents.
As many of us received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ long after we’ve been deluged by worldly entertainment, we’ve not only in the position where it’s molded our very thought processes, but we’re tempted to stay in the habit of continuously ingesting a heavy flow of non-Christian garbage and having our minds absolutely inundated. I would advise each of you to take a step back to see if this is a problem for you.
So is all secular entertainment wrong? We know that a great deal of it is. I cannot stand here and tell you that 100% of it is “bad, bad, bad!” while wagging my index finger at you. It is ultimately up to you to prayerfully seek God and seek His guidance on how much worldly music, TV shows and movies in which you should partake.
Make sure that everything you have believed holds up to the Word of God. And immediately drop from your belief system things that are of this world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. – James 4:4
So question all that has been ingrained in you. Don’t always look for your favorite political pundits for answers. Don’t just assume that because the smart and beautiful and rich and famous people have said something that it is necessarily going to be correct. Hold up everything to the litmus test of Scripture and see if it stands up under God’s fire. Be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11:
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”