The evil contained in this world is catastrophic. Everywhere we look, there are rumors and evidence of Satan’s presence; war, violence, lack of love, sin that flies directly in the face of a holy God. It doesn’t take much to remind us that, as John 14:30 says, Satan is the prince of this world.
We live in such a confounding paradox, because this world contains so much loveliness as well. This very planet, this very universe is crafted so carefully and is absolutely amazing. Not only is the planet beautiful in and of itself, but it contains so much beauty. The diversity of life, nature, art, wonderful music, great and weighty literary works. As long as we dwell on this planet, we should never lose our wonder, because there is so much that is truly wonderful.
Yet, I think that’s what we, as the Church, have truly done-we’ve lost our wonder. I think we as a body just became so afraid of being overcome by evil that we decided to do everything we could to defend ourselves from it. We slapped labels on things-if they explicitly mentioned Jesus, they were viewed as ‘Christian’, and if they didn’t, they were viewed as ‘secular’. And clearly, if something’s marked ‘secular’, it’s evil (sarcasm).
I can just imagine God shaking his head and saying, “You’re missing out on so much.”
Philippians 4:8 says,
“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.”
You see, we are so quick to jump to the conclusion that unless something is explicitly given the label of ‘Christian’, it doesn’t glorify God. I don’t think anything could be farther from the truth.
What about the works of Tolkien, the majestic themes of glory, sacrifice, and redemption that run through his writing? How about the soaring measures rising from a cello as a composer plays their work? What about the AMAZING food you had for dinner last night?
How dare we decide what can and cannot give God glory and what we should and should not consume! We, in our weak humanity, try to restrict ourselves and those around us when God, through his Word, has given us freedom to enjoy so much! Whatever is right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy-we are free to enjoy and think about such things, no matter if they have the ‘Christian’ label tacked on or not.
In fact, I think things that carry the tacky ‘Christian’ label can sometimes give less glory to God. Think about it-would our creative and wonderful God be most glorified in a whitewashed, poorly written, tacky and theologically lacking song that was played by a ‘Christian’ artist? Or would he be more glorified by a ‘secular’ artist singing an amazingly well written song that had lyrics wrestling with brokenness and redemption?
If things point to God, if they are lovely and admirable, they give him glory. It doesn’t matter if the founding point of such things is ‘Christian’ or if it is ‘secular’. Those are man made labels, and when we arrive at eternity with our King one day, I don’t think he’s going to be asking us, “Did you listen to only Christian music?” I think the more likely question would be, “Why did you create such a label and impose it on others? You limited them and yourself from truly enjoying my glory!”
You have freedom in this world to look at all things that are admirable as giving glory to God. He’s told us that whatever is lovely is what we should dwell on, so let us be a people who seek out loveliness and stand amazed at how it reflects our Creator.