Researcher George Barna, in his Generation Next, reports on a survey of 13- to 18-year-old Christian and non-Christian teens in the USA. He says, “Seeing how teenage believers deal with life was consistently startling.... It did not take much of an imagination to wonder sometimes if the Christian faith of these young people really makes any difference at all in how they think about, perceive and handle life.” He found lifestyles of the teenagers “virtually identical.” He also found a parallel between beliefs of Christian teens and of their parents. Christian adults are conforming to societal standards—and their children follow them.
In a more recent survey Barna found that “in spite of the fact that most Americans consider themselves to be Christian, very few adults base their moral decisions on the Bible, and surprisingly few believe that absolute moral truth exists.” <www.barna.org>.
We live in a world that has largely forgotten the God of the Bible. How should a Bible-believing Christian live in such a world?
Citizens Of Heaven
1. Of which world does the Bible say Christians are citizens?
Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2. What are Christians instructed not to conform to?
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Vance Packard, writing about advertising and media in his book The Hidden Persuaders, says, “Many of us are being influenced and manipulated—far more than we realised—in the patterns of our everyday lives.... Typically these efforts [to mould our thinking] take place beneath our level of awareness so that the appeals which move us are often, in a sense, ‘hidden.'”
3. What are Christians not to love?
1 John 2:15, 16 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
4. What law of the harvest are we called to remember?
Galatians 6:7, 8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
The average American child spends 28 hours a week watching television before he or she reaches the age of 18. They will witness 200,000 acts of violence, including 20,000 murders. Numerous studies show that children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behaviour later than children who are not exposed (The World Today, July 27, 2000, <www.abc.net.au>). Teenagers see an estimated 14,000 sexual references and innuendos a year.
Dr Kerri Parnell, a researcher at Australian Doctor, has found that “if you watch more than two-and-a-half hours of TV a day, you're less likely to go to university and your maths, language and reading ability will be poor. You're more likely to smoke and to use marijuana and be sexually active earlier—particularly if that TV is in the bedroom” (“Too much TV?” <www.ninemsn.com.au>, July 6, 2005).
Some Guidelines For Living
5. What does Paul recommend as a guide right thinking?
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, 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.”
Writes Bible commentator Ellen G White, “It is a law of the mind that it gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is trained to dwell. If occupied with commonplace matters only, it will become dwarfed and enfeebled. If never required to grapple with difficult problems, it will after a time almost lose the power of growth” (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 596).
6. To Whom do our bodies belong?
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you.... You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.”
7. What overriding principle should guide the Christian?
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
8. What is the motivation for the Christian to live for God's glory?
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Bible presents the Christian life in this world as a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-17). The Christian must practise discrimination: “No servant can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13). Paul counsels, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22). We are not to uncritically accept everything that comes our way. There are choices to be made, and they need to be intelligently informed, motivated by God's love for us.