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Movies are replacing God in my life. I'm not praying and I'm losing interest in God. What do you suggest?
Thank you so much for your question about being closer to God and watching movies. It is really important that in every aspect of our lives we consider whether we are pleasing God, in what we say, do and think, so it’s great that you are thinking like this.
The Bible is God’s word, so should be our guide as we seek to follow God.
Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
On some things the Bible is very clear, with definite instructions given for us, in other areas there are principles that we should seek to apply, and some things are not mentioned at all in the Bible and we have freedom to choose as we wish, because the Bible has given us all the instructions we need to live the way that God wants.
There is, of course, no mention of movies or watching TV in the Bible, so there are no definite instructions, however the Bible does talk in more general terms as to the way that we should live our lives.
But now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
But also there is clear teaching that making extra rules for ourselves doesn’t make us more pleasing to God, and that we have freedom now.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
So, this isn’t a question that I can give you a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer about. It is something for you to pray about, considering what the Bible says, asking God to guide you, and trusting that he will show you the way. It might also be useful for you to consider the effect that the movies/TV has on you and the emotions it raises, and also whether the things that these shows are associated with for you are helpful.
Most Christians are familiar with the phrase "In the world but not of the world". It comes from Jesus' final prayer for his disciples before he is crucified. He says to God the Father:
"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world". (John 17:14-16)
We are in the world, because Jesus didn't pray to take us out. We are not of the world, just like Jesus is not of it. Let's look at the individual parts of that phrase.
In the World
Jesus doesn't want his people to be utterly separate from other people. Paul says a similar thing to the Corinthians:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)
It is impossible for the Christian to separate themselves from every sinner, otherwise they'd have to leave the world. Paul is simply saying that Christians shouldn't treat sexually immoral people as if they were Christians. We must befriend people who do sinful things so that we can witness to them about Christ.
Not of the World
However, whilst we are in the world, we need to make sure we are not affected by it. Jesus tells us, You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). It is interesting that he says this because he calls himself the light of the world (John 8:12). We are to represent Jesus to others. That means we mustn't take part in the sinful things the world does.
Balancing the two aspects causes great difficulty. Christians tend to fall one way or the other. Some separate themselves from their non-Christian friends so much they cannot show them the love of God. Others compromise so much they look no different. With modern problems, God's Word often gives general principles, rather than specific advice. However, here are some things to bear in mind:
1. Is this movie/TV show tempting you to sin?
Many Christians believe that certain movies or music make them sin. However, nothing can force sin upon you. Jewish people thought various Jews could defile you but Jesus puts them right:
“Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:18-23)
Nothing from the outside forces us to sin. Sin is something that comes from our heart.
Having said that, we do have a responsibility to avoid things that tempt us to sin. The thing is, different things tempt different people. Paul says in the issue of eating food, but whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23). For some people, eating the food would be a problem, so they should avoid it, even though eating isn't sinful in itself.
Let us take the example of music. For a certain type of person, they might hear sexually explicit lyrics and instantly start think of sinful actions of their past. But for another person, whilst they wouldn't choose to listen to this music, being in the room as someone else listening to it isn't going to tempt them. Only you know which is true of you.
2. It is possible to be involved in things without moving away from God.
You need to find the balance. Instead of putting movies/TV above God, make sure you get the right balance. There is not anything wrong with watching movies or TV but if it takes you away from God then it is wrong. The answer is always to repent, and turn back from God. Pray and say sorry for the wrong you have done. He is just to forgive you through Christ.
Practically put some things in place to help you stop watching all the time. If you watch them on a laptop you can get software that limits the amount of time you can browse. Ultimately this is an issue of the heart that you need to work out before God.
In summary, this is an issue that the Bible does not speak about directly so there is freedom to for you to prayerfully consider this issue and come to a decision on it for yourself.
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answers affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at http://www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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