A Nut Case from The Past
By Steve Gallagher
Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat) called his supporting performance in the 2003 film Time Changer “The most important thing” he had ever done. It’s hard to disagree with him.
The storyline occurs in 1890 and revolves around Bible professor Russell Carlisle, who is unwittingly transported by a time machine into modern-day America. For five days, he finds himself trapped in a wicked world to which you and I have become shamefully accustomed.
In his day, the term, “Gay Nineties,” referred to the nation’s innocence, not to the filthy and lewd behavior reflected in our past decade. Men married their women for life, with divorce rates hovering around a microscopic 5%. Teenage promiscuity, marital infidelity and abortion were almost nonexistent. Pornography, even if you could find it, was typically an artist’s rendering of a topless woman.
Christian filmmaker Rich Chnstiano’s character, Russell Carlisle, is an awkward and unlikely hero who is thrust into the America of our day. This results in the inevitable scenes of him marveling over modern technology and dodging speeding cars. More important, though, are his reactions to the stark contrast in morality between the two eras.
At one point, he is seen watching television. His horrified expression betrays the fact that he is witnessing the kind of blatant immorality which has become standard fare for many of us. But perhaps the most poignant scene occurs when he is invited by some Christians to attend a movie with them. Suddenly, he is shown running out of the theater screaming at the employees, “You have to stop this movie! That actor took the Lord’s name in vain! He blasphemed God!”
If you or I witnessed a man acting this way, our first thought would probably be, “What a nut case!”
And yet this scenario provokes a few pointed questions Christian men should ask themselves. Why aren’t we more outraged when we hear actors take the Lord’s name in vain? How can we look upon scantily-clad girls on television without blushing? Why do we permit TV to indoctrinate our children with the world’s values? The answer to these questions is clear: we have given our culture a greater place in our lives than the Word of God.
I can still remember some twenty years ago when the Lord began convicting me about watching television. At the time it seemed “off-the-wall,” and I resisted the notion until I was convinced it was truly from Him. A couple of years after getting rid of my TV set, I visited the home of an acquaintance who was playing his television. Much to his amusement, I stood in open-mouthed disbelief at what I was seeing, with probably much the same shocked look on my face as that of Russell Carlisle.
This incident taught me that people simply can’t comprehend how bad something really is while regularly partaking in it. A perfect illustration of this truth is the way a nonsmoker reacts when entering a smoke-filled room. His pure, clean lungs simply cannot tolerate breathing in that filthy air. If he ever picks up the habit though, he can walk through the smokiest room without even noticing it.
The message of Time Changer sheds much-needed light on the fact that we have become very accustomed to the world’s mindset through immersing ourselves in television, movies, magazines and the Internet We don’t mind “the smoke” because our spiritual lungs have become all too comfortable with the pollution.
The sad truth is that most Christian men readily tolerate hearing blasphemous statements and seeing ungodly behavior because they are unwilling to pay the required price to maintain a pure heart. The American culture has become so huge in their lives that the values of the Kingdom of God are now minuscule in comparison.
Yes, it is true, if a man from the past raised a ruckus over someone taking the Lord’s name in vain, he would look like a nut-case. And yet, when I examine the long line of courageous martyrs down through Church history, I have to ask myself, “Who is sane and who is crazy?”
Was William Tyndale a fruitcake because he was burned at the stake wearing a dunce’s cap? Was Martin Luther weird because he challenged the entire world of Catholicism? Was Jesus Christ a chump when He allowed Himself to be spit on, beaten, jeered and tortured to death? The fact is that the world has always hated and ridiculed godly people.
If we really get honest with ourselves, surely we can see that the most insane thing a believer can do is to align himself with the enemies of God. It brings to mind the scorching words of James 4:4: “You are like unfaithful wives having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.” (AMP)
Perhaps the best conclusion for this article would be the following words of commentary by Alfred Plummer, written, appropriately, in 1890:
– James wishes to bring home that any soul that has been wedded to God, and has then transferred its affection and allegiance to other beings, is an unfaithful wife. A wife who cultivates friendship with one who is trying to seduce her becomes the enemy of her husband. It is useless for the Christian to plead that he has no wish to be hostile to God. He has of his own free will adopted a condition of life which of necessity involves hostility to Him.
– The world may assure him that it is quite easy to serve God, and yet remain on excellent terms with the world. But God declares that the choice must be made, and that it is absolute and exclusive. Do these terms seem to be harsh? They are not really so, for the more we surrender, the more He bestows. We give up the world, and that appears to us to be a great sacrifice. “But He giveth more grace.”
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.” A Nut Case from The Past. By Steve Gallagher.