Some years ago, a neighbor of my parents stopped by to ask if they had found her sunglasses. She was anxious to find them since the glasses were special to her and valuable, at over $500. I can’t imagine owning a pair that expensive. I’ve lost many sunglasses over the years myself, but they were probably purchased at the neighborhood drugstore. No big expense equals no big loss in my book!
Fancy sunglasses remind me of the 1988 cult-classic science fiction film, They Live. The plot features sunglasses that bestow the ability to tell humans apart from aliens, by exposing the aliens’ blue skin, skull-like faces, hollow eyes and missing lips. The glasses also reveal specific marketing propaganda and subliminal messages that the aliens broadcast to humans through mass media.
When the film’s protagonist puts on the glasses, the world he sees becomes black and white, literally. But the contrast becomes more figuratively obvious as well. Once he notices the aliens, he sees them everywhere and identifies their strategy. He wages a battle to expose their plot to control humans via subliminal messages like “OBEY” and “NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT.”
The film is part social commentary objecting to commercialism and conformity, but recently I thought about its applications for me as a Christian: do I subscribe to the self-serving messages of the world, or do I adhere to the high calling of God’s Word? Do I prioritize and obey God’s instruction and fight to uphold Godly principles, or am I more attuned to worldly influence?
We are constantly bombarded by persuasive messages of self-affirmation. Sentiments like “LIVE YOUR TRUTH” and “YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH” are commonplace and obvious. They seem benign and positive at first but are deceptively in conflict with Christianity upon closer examination.
Firstly, scripture repeatedly proclaims that God is Truth: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). If we have accepted that this comports with objective truth and reality (i.e., that Jesus is who He claims to be), then concepts like “live your truth” fall apart logically when we yield to the authority of God’s Word. We are called to obey and live according to His Truth instead of living by our own.
Secondly, at its core the statement “you are good enough” is a statement about identity, based on the assumption that people are fundamentally good. But according to scripture every human sins and human nature is intrinsically sinful: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are, in fact, NOT good enough. Without Christ we are dead in our sins. But we are made sufficient in Christ by His grace, through faith. Christians understand that we desperately need a Savior who can cleanse us of sin and reconcile us to God.
Furthermore, God expects our lives to change and be sanctified as we mature in faith. Scripture admonishes us to die to ourselves and serve God and one another: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Paul expressed dying to self in order to live for Christ: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Our faith walk should involve continually casting off our old ways in a lifelong process of sanctification, dying to self and living for Christ. Again, we see how the sentiment “you are good enough” falls apart logically against the authority of God’s Word.
Paul warns: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). He goes on to say in verse 10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” When our identity is more self-serving and in step with the world, instead of firmly rooted in Christ, we distort the gospel.
Sisters, do we conform to the world’s deceptive subliminal messages, or do we expose and defy them because we are being transformed through the renewing of our minds? Do we take every thought captive in order to obey Christ? Let’s take up our spiritual armor (see Ephesians 6:13-17), for the spiritual battle is real and the enemy is cunning.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).