Monday, October 18, 2010

The Symptoms of "Secular Seep"

What is "Secular Seep"
I could be wrong, but I think I have coined a term.  "Secular Seep" is a phrase I use to describe the little things in a Christian's life that are out of place according to the all-encompassing nature of our faith.  Christianity is a religion which proposes to be a way of looking at all of life (in fact, it proposes to be the way of looking at all of life).  This being the case, there isn't a part of a Christian's life that Christ should not be the center.  When we let in an aspect of the world into our lives, we open the door to not only let that aspect in, but, just a little, the door is open to push Christ out.

"Secular Seep" is not an easy disease to diagnose. It is a slight, subtle, subversive, parasitic infection often undetected for years.  The key element is a general trend toward compromise, so slow the sick do not understand their sickness.

However, it is highly contagious (virulent).  It does not spread by touch, or cough, or even blood transfer.  No, as of now, it is the only disease I know that transfers at the rate and speed of thought and communication.  A friend pressures a Christian into compromise, and "secular seep" has started in the Christian's life.  Whole local Churches can be infected in a very quick amount of time.

It is also, highly resilient (resistant).  Once secular seep has infected a subject, or a body of subjects, it is extremely painful to extract or cure.  It fights to continue its parasitic life off the life of the host.

What are the Symptoms of SS?  Do I have SS?
SS is almost impossible to spot for those who have it.  It often takes a trained, outside observer to correctly diagnose SS. However, it is possible to recognize some of the symptoms of SS before it is too late.

Watch What You Watch
If you find yourself watching TV shows that glorify sex, money, or fame and justifying it as "not that bad" you may have symptoms of SS.  One good rule of thumb is, if your TV shows imply sin in their titles, you could have SS (Gossip Girl, Sex in the City).  Remember, not all of these titles are inherently sinful, but instead there is sin implied by their titles.  Sinful talking about someone (gossip), and having intimate relationships God does not want you to have (I mean what else was Sex in the City all about???) are clearly implied in these titles to anyone who has watched even 5 minutes of these shows.

Even one of the best reality shows on television (American Idol) implies a sinful relationship before God.  How is it there wasn't an outcry by Christians about the title of this show?  For the most part, American Idol is only a show about some people trying to make it big.  However, many of these people strive for fame at the expense of others and better lives for themselves.  Also, some people who follow the show are so obsessed with it, it truly has become an idol to them.

It is possible to watch TV or movies like this, and be able to keep SS at bay, but it is extremely difficult.  One must be constantly on guard against attacks against their soul, evaluating the content of what they watch against the word of God.  For some (maybe even most), it is better to be safe by not watching, than sorry for watching.

This is an area I find to be one of the least consistent for Christians.  I know of many people who will avoid the Harry Potter movies because they contain spells (forgetting about the overall message of Good and Evil being different things and battling for the hearts and minds of people), but they are far too eager to watch Glee (forgetting that the message is about how some evil things, sex outside of marriage for example, are actually good and should be pursued at all costs).

Take Stock of Your Friends
Do your friends want you to succeed in your spiritual life?  Or are they constantly asking you to compromise? If they are putting you in situations against God's word, then you might have already contracted SS.  True friends urge you to glorify God.  True friends do not ask you to live against his standards for your life.

This does not mean we should not have friends who are not Christian.  It does mean, however, that non-Christian friends (or Christian friends that are not constantly following Christ) should not have influence in our lives.  These unChristian friends cannot be motivating to us.  We cannot spend so much time with them that we adopt their thinking without knowing we are doing so.  Jesus was stronger than we are, thus he could spend more time the the "tax collectors."

What Do You Listen To?
In a similar way to the movies or TV you watch, the things we listen to can tell us a lot about our health and ability to fight off SS.  Does your music better you as a person, or does it make comments that are not consistent with a godly view of the world?  SS is so subversive, in part, because it is hard to tell where the problem has come from, and there may be nowhere harder to see this than the music we listen to.  Our music can give us thoughts we didn't know we even had.  Christians are children of God, why live or settle for so much less?

The music you listen to can subtly change your worldview to the point where you wouldn't recognize yourself if you are not careful.  We say we "only listen to the beat,"  and to be sure, Satan loves that we think this is the case.

Where Does Your Money Go?
When was the last time you asked God about a decision regarding how you spend your money?  Remember, Christianity claims to be a way of looking at all of life, and this includes your money.  However, as Americans, we often think we are entitled to use our money the way we want to, we think it is ours because "we earned it".

Instead, Christ should be the center of all our transactions.  There is no purchase too small, to ask God if there is something else he would rather us do with this money.  For many of us, we have never even asked God about what he thinks about our purchasing a car, let alone a candy bar, but if Christianity is truly the center of one's life, then even buying a candy bar is a spiritual act.

There May Be Other Symptoms
There are many other things which can be associated with SS.  Many of them are not inherently wrong.  However, the key question to ask yourself is, what does Jesus have to do with the way I live my life?  Satan loves when people do not understand they are in a war for their hearts and minds.  If he can keep us from believing there is a war, then we will die comfortably, but die nonetheless.

How to Treat SS
If you think you, or someone you know, may have contracted SS, do not panic, but know it takes a lot of work to eradicate the disease.  Surround the subject with people who truly love them, who want to see them succeed in the life of Christ.  Get into a mentor relationship with someone who will challenge you on the areas you struggle with.  Delve into God's word in a deep way.  Read more, listen to Christian radio.

In some extremes, it may be necessary to rid oneself of TV or popular music, or even the internet.  However, remember this is a small price to pay to follow the creator of all the universe, who knows how you were made and can give the abundant life.

The truth is, this transformation comes from God himself, and we need to surrender to his leadership in our life.  We can truly live for him, only through his power.  It is not our salvation, but His salvation to us, His life to us.


Chris Seals is... said...

If I believed in intellectual property I'd tell you to trademark/copyright your newly coined phrase! Secular Seep... You've already made 5 cents!

One short comment though:

"...non-Christian friends (or Christian friends that are not constantly following Christ) should not have influence in our lives."

I have encountered non-Christians who in many ways embody the way of Jesus more accurately than do I or the majority of Christians that I have come into contact with. Since they have not made a propositional statement of faith in the substitutionary atonement of Christ on Calvary's cross, should I then not be inspired by them when they look more like Jesus than my immediately present Christian community? Unfortunately, (at least in my experience) there are not many modern day "saints" that have allowed the reality of the good news to pervade all of their life... which leaves us in a strange predicament: do we still allow ourselves to be influenced by the thousands of semi-christlike Christians and/or semi-christlike non-Christians, or do we hold out on influential relationships until we encounter some verifiable Jesus followers?

Thank God for the Amish.

Either way...Kill Your Television!

Also, I listen to quite a bit of talk radio, and you've reminded me that too much KFI can be a terrible thing. Thank you.

Gabriel Pagel said...

Actually, I think I heartily agree with you. If truth is in line with God (and it is), then when non-Christians do things that agree with that truth (and sometimes they do), we should applaud them.

This is the main reason for adding the phrase "or Christian friends that are not constantly following Christ." Unfortunately, anyone who is not truly walking with Christ, will never be able to work for the glory of our Father or his Son or Spirit. Therefore, when they do good, we applaud, when they do bad, we don't follow.

One more reason it is especially important to be able to test everything against the word of truth.