I have heard the phrase "I am in the world but not of the world" (or variations of it) for about as long as I've been a Christian. There's a whole apparel brand based on that phrase. When Building 429's "Where I Belong" comes on, we start singing "All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong" as an anthem. This concept is biblically rooted in a mush soup of verses, but I think it's legit even though the application can be tricky. Do we shut ourselves off from the world? Can we like any non-Christian music? Is it a sin to have a Netflix account and not a PureFlix?
It seems like the conversation about what media and entertainment the world gives us and what we consume and enjoy is a recurring one. Last year, NRT Founder, President, and all-around good guy Kevin McNeese wrote an article titled 'No Thank U, Next!' about this very topic. That article has a link to another article a few years previous. This year, Super Bowl 54's halftime show has caused quite a mixed reaction in my social media feed. Is it a sin to not be outraged about the show? I sure hope not because my wife and I aren't. Maybe it's because we've watched too many Latin Nights on Dancing with the Stars or maybe it's the relativity of 'it's not as bad as it could have been.' That being said, we weren't blown away by it either.
The Super Bowl has become somewhat of a national holiday in the past couple of decades. People who don't even like football attend parties just for the hoopla. Well, the commercials too, even though they're released days ahead of the game. The Halftime Show has become an integral piece to the event and needs to be as riveting as the game, if not more. Acts like The Who and Maroon 5 have been received negatively, while acts like Beyonce and JLo/Shakira have got overwhelmingly great responses. So, you either need to have the sheer talent of Bruno Mars or the hips of Shakira to have a great halftime show. Guess which one is easier.
I don't want to take anything away from Shakira's vocal talent because I believe she is insanely talented, and I definitely don't have the talent it takes to dance like she did, but was the intention to display the beauty of the human body and it's movement or was it trying to provoke a different emotion?
I think that they can do better for a family-oriented event, hands down. But, ratings are ratings and I think I am in the minority in my opinion. So, how do we handle it? Should we boycott the Super Bowl every year? Do we not attend any Super Bowl parties? Do we turn off the TV at halftime? Do we just consume it as normal so we aren't labeled prude? I'm not going to demand any course of action and I can't honestly say what our answer is for next year.
Back to this concept of in the world but not of: Tauren Wells sings in his new song "Citizen of Heaven": "I know I am a citizen of Heaven/My identity forever is Yours, Yours." A citizen of a country can reside in another country, appreciate the culture, enjoy the entertainment, etc. while still maintaining their original citizenship and identity. As Christians, our citizenship is in Heaven, but we reside on Earth. While I believe that we can enjoy the culture around us much like we can enjoy the culture of another nation, 1 John 2 and Romans 12 have grave warnings about copying the ways of the world and loving the world. I also believe that arts/music/theatre/etc. are a beautiful part of God's creation and are powerful tools of communication, changing the way you think and see the world.
So, what are you letting communicate to you and change your mind? Is it affirming your citizenship of Heaven and your identity there or is it changing your identity to the ways of the world?
Jake is a longtime fan of Christian music, Jesus Freak Cruiser, a techie, and a softball player. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter.