This year’s Super Bowl was one of the best games in years. The halftime show, by contrast, was one of the most shocking. My wife and I were appalled at the sexual nature of the performance, agreeing that if our grandchildren had been with us, we would have been forced to change the channel.
It turns out, we were not alone. The Federal Communications Commission has received 1,312 complaints from viewers concerned about the show. Some parents felt their children were exposed to a “porno show.” Others thought the show encouraged sex trafficking or was a major setback for the Me Too movement.
At least there is a way for viewers to do something about abhorrent television content. That seems to be less the case for the other big story in today’s news.
How to prepare for the coronavirus
This morning, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked all of Japan’s schools to close for a month to help contain the spread of the virus. Federal health officials are preparing for a potential pandemic in the US. President Trump has appointed Vice President Pence to head up the American response to the virus. A US soldier in South Korea has tested positive for the virus, which has spread to every continent except Antarctica.
What can we do to prepare?
A Yale medical professor says we can reduce our risk of contracting the virus by regularly washing our hands, not going to school or work if we are sick, and getting the flu shot to reduce overcrowding at health-care facilities during the outbreak. Public health tactics could include reducing mass gatherings, dismissing students or closing schools for a while, and implementing “social distancing” measures.
Such responses are undoubtedly vital, but it’s natural to wish we could do more. By contrast, when viewers were offended by the Super Bowl halftime show, they responded immediately.
Working with the Me Too movement
From Genesis to Revelation, we find God taking the initiative in relating to his creation. He seeks Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:9). He sends Joseph to Egypt, Moses to Pharaoh, David to Goliath, Daniel to the king of Babylon, and Paul across the Roman Empire.
Religion is about our climbing up to God; Christianity is about God climbing down to us. The entire story of his dealings with us is one of a shepherd seeking lost sheep, taking the incarnational initiative to go to those who could not come to him.
As a result, you and I are not to respond to immorality with passivity. We are to be change agents, taking light to the dark and the gospel to the gates of hell (Matthew 5:13–16; 16:18).
For example, the next time you see immorality on television, call the FCC to register your concern. (Here’s how.) When you have cultural concerns, call or write your mayor, city council, or congressional representative. (I’ve been told by political leaders that most Americans have no idea how much influence such letters and calls have.)
Look for ways to work with others. Evangelicals and the Me Too movement are not typically seen as partners, but on issues related to sexual abuse, we are clearly aligned. The same is true with pro-life groups, organizations fighting sex trafficking, and so on.
And choose the battles God wants you to wage. Christians need to be known for what we’re for, not just for what we’re against. The Lord will lead you to the issues he wants you to address.
Define your gifts and influence, then use them for the kingdom. This is our side of the divine-human partnership.
“My soul is in the midst of lions”
At the same time, we are to trust God to do what no person can.
When David was taking refuge from Saul in a cave, he prayed, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by” (Psalm 57:1).
David believes that God has not abandoned him: “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me” (v. 2). The darkness of the tunnel does not contradict the sovereignty of the engineer driving the train.
As a result, David can claim, “He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me” (v. 3). “Him who tramples on me” was King Saul, the tallest warrior and most powerful person in the land. Think of the most powerful person you know, then imagine that person seeking to kill you. Now proclaim that God will defend you and defeat this person.
This is David’s faith, based on the fact that the One in whom he trusts is more powerful than his most powerful adversary.
Such faith does not change his immediate circumstances: “My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (v. 4). But it gives him joy in the present: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” (v. 7). And it gives him hope for the future: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (v. 9).
A shelter in a storm is helpful only when we seek its protection. Whatever your challenges today, you can say to God: “In you my soul takes refuge.”
NOTE: Pastor Mark Turman read Empowered: A Guide to Experiencing the Power of the Holy Spirit and asked to record its forty-seven chapters as daily readings for his church.
When I heard about this, I asked if we could release these recordings as bonus episodes of The Daily Article Podcast every day from Ash Wednesday to Easter. So we have done that.
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