It seemed like such a good idea at the time

It was a really hot day today, so I stopped after work to get a two scoop black cherry ice cream cone. That really hit the spot.

As the young lady scooped my ice cream, I saw that both of her arms were covered with tattoos and wondered how long she will consider them an enhancement to her appearance. It reminded me of a young man whose arms are similarly decorated. At one time that seemed like a good idea; then he became a Christian and started wearing long-sleeved shirts to hide the tattoos. He is determined to get rid of them, but has found that removing them is not nearly as quick and easy as getting them.

Marshall McLuhan, in his book Understanding Media, noted that children who are continually exposed to television, do not have the ability to foresee that their actions of today will have consequences tomorrow. This inability to make a connection between cause and effect has become the defining characteristic of modern society. Politics today is not about issues, but about projecting the right image. Unfortunately, too many churches have fallen into a similar snare.

The problem is not with the programming on television, it is in the nature of the medium itself. A never ending series of images passes before the viewers eyes, without time or opportunity to consider the veracity of what is being presented, but impressions are implanted in the mind and senses. This transfers into the life of the viewer who has lost the ability to reflect on anything but the present moment. The same effect would be produced by exclusively watching Christian television.

I’m afraid that much youth ministry of our day dovetails neatly into this live for the moment orientation. There is no evidence that multimedia, seeker-friendly, youth-oriented “Christian” events have any long-term benefits. The young people who remain rooted and grounded in the faith when they reach adulthood are those who developed the habit of daily Bible reading and a personal relationship with God in their youth. They are the ones whose lives are not focused on the present moment, but on eternity.

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