I want to tell you about an exciting book I’m reading called This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in the Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax. It’s not often that I find a real ‘page turner’, but this book definitely is. The book is basically trying to equip Christians with gospel lenses through which they can critically evaluate 21st century cultural issues. It has chapters that deal with technology, Hollywood, the pursuit of happiness, sex and marriage.
Trevin provides a really useful gospel lens through which we can evaluate many ‘cultural narratives’. He says to look out for the longing, the lie and the light of the gospel.
The longing – “We need to see that there is usually something good and right in the stories our society tells” (p. 10). For example, in The Shape of Water, there is a longing for a society free from racism, misogyny, oppression, discrimination and abuse. There is a longing for institutions that are compassionate, just and kind.
The lie – It’s not enough to affirm the longings, “we must also challenge what is bad about the myth. The gospel doesn’t simply affirm the deepest longings of humanity; it also challenges and reshapes those longings; and in doing so, it exposes the lie” (p. 11). The lie in The Shape of Water is that the freedom we long for can be attained through unrestricted and unlimited sexual expression, in this case between a human and a beast (yuck!!!).
The light of the gospel – “Christians who shine the light of the gospel on the myths of our world do not simply say, ‘This is right and this is wrong,’ but ‘This is better.’ The gospel tells a better story” (p. 12). So let’s apply this to The Shape of Water:
* If you long for a society free from racism, look at Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan, where Jesus makes a ‘filthy’ Samaritan the hero and the ‘upright’ Jews the villains!
* If you long for authorities who use their power to serve others and not themselves, look at Jesus, with all authority and power, laying down his life for his enemies!
* If you long for a society free from bigotry and misogyny, look at Jesus’ dealings with the sinful woman surrounded by misogynistic religious leaders in John 8!
He goes on to say that we all tend to be either ‘Lie Detector Christians’, focusing on exposing the lies, or ‘Complimentary Christians’, always focused on what we can affirm. “If Lie-detector Christians err on the side of exposing lies, Complimentary Christians err on the side of making Christianity sound just like the world” (p.13). But neither of these will do. I’m more of a Lie-detector Christian, so I need to work harder to identify people’s longings. What about you?
To conclude, let me tell you what I long for: I long for Christian parents who are able to provide their kids with gospel lenses with which they can evaluate the myths that their devices, movies, games and tv shows are telling them. Do yourself a favour and buy this book!