A Biblical Response to Worldly Events
by Charlie Matz
On the Monday after the Super Bowl, there was quite a buzz about the halftime show. Some people were praising it, others were loudly voicing their disdain for the lewd nature of what was shown. I saw some people handling the topic with grace, and others… not so much.
I want to preface this article by stating that I did not watch the Super Bowl LIV halftime show and if you haven’t, please don’t. You don’t need to understand the details of the performance to track with the following points.
Also, the following points apply to any worldly event and aren’t specifically tied to the Halftime show that recently aired. Since I’ll be unpacking Biblical insights, the following points should even be true for the Super Bowl MLIV halftime should the Lord tarry.
So, why write this article and why now? What’s the big deal? The main reason I’m writing this now is because of what I witnessed following the big game on Sunday night. I read an array of responses to the halftime show by Christians. Some responses were unwise and unnecessary on a number of levels.
Secondly, I was concerned by the tone of the comments directed toward the performers by self-proclaimed Christians. There seems to be a general misunderstanding about the Gospel, the state of the lost, what sin is, the role of righteousness, and our main assignment as born-again followers of Christ.
There’s so much that I could unpack in this article, but I’m going to limit it to two main points in an effort to guide us back to Scripture and set the tone for future events. Parents, our children are watching and following us so let’s get this right!
Replace Our Desire for Behavior Modification with a Vigor for Sharing the Gospel
I completely understand our desire to want to stop sinful things from happening. That’s natural and in some cases, we are called to do so. There are plenty of Biblical examples of God’s people being used to stop sinful behavior. But we must be careful to not get the “why” twisted. If we aim to stop people from behaving badly without a heart for salvation and God’s glory then we are on a fool’s errand that only ends in behavior modification.
Far too often I’m tempted to change the behavior of the lost in my life. I want to get them to stop drinking, looking at porn, or lying. Those are good things to stop, don’t get me wrong! However, the greatest need of any sinner is the salvation of their soul! They need a way back to God, a way to pay for the sin that they’ve racked up against a Holy and Just God! In a hundred years from now, I want my neighbor to be in Heaven with Christ. Do I want him to stop drinking? Yes! But mostly as a response to becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and receiving the Holy Spirit to help him do so. Without Christ, getting my neighbor to stop sinning is like cleaning my dirty car with a baby wipe.
So what does this have to do with a worldly event like the Super Bowl Halftime show? Honestly, it could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Here are a few thoughts that I had in the aftermath of the show… a list of places to aim our focus rather than vocalizing our disappointment with the performers to the world on social media:
- Turn off the television during halftime and pray for the performers.
- Praying for their salvation with your children is a powerful thing. Our kids will see that we don’t’ stand for sin, but not in a way to simply modify behavior or earn salvation, but as an offense to God! What’s the only solution to this sin that God hates? Repentance and faith. We can pray for the halftime performers to repent and put their full trust in Jesus Christ.
- If you have guests over for the big game and you’re in mixed company, you can still turn the television off. Don’t worry if it’s awkward… nothing can be more awkward than watching the show with those same guests. Once the TV is off you’ll have an opportunity to explain why you turned it off with compassion and love. Perhaps you’ll get into a gospel conversation with unsaved guests. Win-win!
- Pray for the NFL and all of those involved to be convicted by the show.
- It’s easy to think that things will just continue to get worse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pray for God to have his way with these mega organizations and for hearts to be changed and aligned with what God calls right.
- Don’t publicly grumble about what’s happening.
- In Philippians 2:14-18 it says:
- 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
- We would all do well to take our anger and disgust for what’s taking place on our televisions and pour that energy into prayer. God is on the throne and He is sovereign and He’s not surprised by what’s happening on your television. We need to trust Him and His Word and lean into Him, rejoicing like Paul. Not rejoicing because of the state of our world, but rejoicing because God is unchangeable and His Word provides everything we need. If we grumble to an onlooking world, we don’t shine like lights for the gospel but rather fade into the background right next to the very people we’re complaining about.
As Christians, especially those of us leading children into adulthood, we must balance between “not being of the world” and standing naive before a ruthless world. It’s a tough balancing act at times. It’s not always easy to know which end is up. That’s why being in our Bible and praying is so important. That’s why spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship each week is important. We need to keep our compasses pointed to true North!
So, what does all of this have to do with our parenting? Well, There’s no doubt that our children will come to us with some pretty outrageous things as we raise them in a world set out to taint their souls. Although we are taught to hate sin because of its deadly effects we must also be “unfreakoutable” when our children do approach us with their sin problems. There’s a fine line between “real talk about sin” and shaming our children into avoiding our future rebuke. Our urge to “gasp” at our children’s sin problems must be withheld in an effort to maximize our confidence in His saving power, not to minimize the sin.
So, how does this tie into the Super Bowl halftime show? The more we publically bash those that struggle with sin, the less inclined our children will be to come to us when they struggle with those same sin problems. They are watching how we talk about and respond to the sinners we come in contact with.
When the world spits in God’s face, sinning deliberately in front of Him we must be “unfreakoutable,” putting on display our trust that “He’s got this,” not surprised by what He’s seeing. Our anger for the world must be turned to compassion because we know that without Christ they will bear the full wrath of God in due time.
Human beings are spiritually binary. There are those who are saved and those unsaved. Those people who are saved were once unsaved and were dead in their sin. So when we, as saved people, exhibit anger more than compassion for the lost, it reveals our spiritual short-term memory loss just like the servant who was forgiven in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Read Matthew 18:21-35).
Someday soon, there will be another worldly event placed in front of you and me. It will be very important to discern how we participate (or don't), by having wisdom in light of what the Bible says about sin. But we must also keep in mind the most important assignment that God has given us as we sojourn through this life on earth: to make disciples. Everyone is a potential disciple. Our children offer the greatest opportunity for disciple-making in our lives. Along the way, they will witness how we handle sin and treat sinners. And that's important because they are sinners who will learn from you and me what the Bible says about sin and how to be saved… not nearly as much from what we say as to what we do.
If you have a child who did see the halftime show and want some perspective on how to talk through what they saw, our friend Greta Eskridge wrote a great blog post based on that exact situation. Read it here!