There is a sense of balance with most things pertaining to life and Godliness and this topic is no exception.
Scripture calls us to remain unstained from the world (James 1:27), but part of being a well-rounded person who is able to speak to various audiences includes reading sources even when you may not see eye-to-eye with the author.
This has to do with the concept of common grace, as Matthew 5:45 says. God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
The Holy Spirit is not limited to Christian media when it comes to speaking to us, so we can reap biblical truths even if that was not the creator’s intent.
Please, however, consider the state of your own soul. There is wisdom needed when reading, watching, or listening to something that was not intentionally made to glorify Christ. If your faith is not strong enough to discern between good and evil, don’t submit yourself to something that could lead you astray.
#1 — God is not limited to Christian media
Just like how our faith should be an ice cube tray rather than an ice cube, the power of God is not contained to one sector of human existence. Jesus is everywhere.
We can see Him and His Truth in praise and worship music just as much as secular content. This is most clearly seen in the allegory of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, but I also find the song “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons as encouragement that the pain I experience is God-ordained to draw my heart closer to Him so I will go through whatever it takes to conform my image to that of Christ. I got this concept from my mom.
Growing up, my mom would follow every movie we watched with the same question: How did you see the gospel in the plot we just experienced?
Romans 1:18-23 tells us that the reality of God has been clear since the beginning of time. Everyone has a sense of a higher power, it’s just that not everyone knows about or believes in the Higher Power.
This is why there are so many religions, like the jungle tribe a missionary once encountered. They knew from the expanse of the stars that there is something beyond flesh and blood, so they worshipped even though they did not know to Whom the glory was due. When a missionary reached them with the Gospel and told them about God, they redirected their praise to their Creator.
Although Christian resources can clearly layout Scriptural truths, God is not limited to them. The Holy Spirit can speak through any means to poke and prod one toward Christ or clearly allegorize to the Truth.
#2 — To come alongside nonbelievers
Although we are called not to be of the world, we are called to be in it, and being familiar with secular content can allow us to speak to non-believers where they are. We can step into their world rather than force them to join ours.
This is why several of my blog posts quote Marvel movies alongside Scripture alongside some secular scholar. You cannot share the gospel with someone whose language you do not speak.
Or, to phrase it the way one of my college professors once did: to not meet the opposition of their ground would be to throw down our shields and leave the vulnerable unprotected.
See an example of secular references from my church
People don’t care about what you have to say until they know how much you care. You can more effectively communicate with someone if you know where they are coming from and relate to them in some degree.
This is part of the reason why God allows trials in our life: certain trials will allow us to reach people we otherwise would not have been able to help.
#3 — To improve our arguments
One may think that non-believers should not be quoted to help support a believer’s point, a perspective I understand, but a key to having well-defended points is to pull support from multiple perspectives. To have a well-rounded stance, you must understand multiple sides. This is why the best leaders are often well-read.
#4 — Perchance Christian content is wiped
I find the fact that the Holy Spirit can speak to me through secular content encouraging perchance there ever comes a day when—heaven forbid—Christian content is blocked or removed from the internet. If there comes a day when we cannot access edifying media, we can still be reminded of God’s truth through secular content as the Spirit inspires. A few songs, for example:
- “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons — True believers will experience suffering and persecution as a means by God to mold us into His image and equip us to better glorify Him. Glorifying God is our goal and purpose in life, so this song is an empowering reminder that we will do whatever it takes and go through whatever it takes to become more like Christ and spread His fame throughout the nations.
- “Beautiful People” by Ed Sheeran — A mark of a true believer is that they are not in line with the culture, they will not be “cool” in the world’s eyes. We are exiles, aliens to this planet, here for a little while before we go home. We are not like those around us, we will not be accepted like public figures who have the world at their feet, and that’s okay. We are not beautiful as they define beauty because to us the only opinion that matters is Christ’s and all He wants is a heart that loves Him and therefore obeys His commandments.
For now, while we are free to proclaim the truth, I encourage you to saturate yourself with God’s word. Memorize verses, become well-acquainted with how they apply to life, write His word on your heart so it naturally comes to mind when trials come. While he who is in the world can remove tangible objects, that which is seared in our memory is safe.