I'm continuing in Philippians chapter 4 in this blog. Today I want to focus in on one verse, Philippians 4:8.
If you grew up Christian or are a Christian now you are insanely blessed. God was kind to me to place me into a Christian home where I learned the truth of Jesus early and often and where I trusted Jesus as my Savior as a young child; I pray my children have a similar experience.
That being said, I think we Christians can and often have put ourselves and our lives in a box.
We have created such as strict definition of what "Christian products" and "Christian art" is. "Christian fiction" must be about a woman who lives out on some prairie and the cover of the book must show that. Okay, that's a joke, but only sort of. "Christian music" must sound a certain way and must have a very particular set of lyrics. And above all, Christians must aim to one day do work in a mission field in Africa.
Don't get me wrong, I'm saying all "Christian fiction" is bad or "Christian music" shouldn't have the lyrics that it has or that Christians who do mission work in Africa aren't doing something great. All this stuff with the Christian label is fine, but I feel like we've been making a Christian box that Christ never made.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... if anything is excellent or praiseworthy... think about such things." Philippians 4:8
I believe the Apostle Paul in this verse gives us much more freedom than we as Christians give ourselves. What I mean is that we don't have to be so narrow in our view of what "Christian art", "Christian products" and "Christian stuff" is. We need to beware of shoehorning ourselves into a Pharisidical box.
So I say, Christians let's read and create excellent books. In these books the characters can have a life changing experience with God or nearly any other true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable experience. Let's listen to and create excellent music. This music can share the Gospel clearly or explore the complex emotions that God gave us. Let's view and create praiseworthy art. This art can be impressionistic, cubist, realist or something new... and the art doesn't have to have a cross somewhere on it.
Christians, we need to pursue and appreciate excellence in its many forms. The ultimate form of excellence is no doubt God Himself and what He does, but He created us to love excellence in all forms from the symphony to views of the Grand Canyon.
In pursuit of this excellence let's let our young people pursue it in all arenas. While we can salute budding young missionaries or seminary students and encourage them, let's not tell our students that if they are fascinated thinking about science or engineering that their studies are somehow less "Christian". Let's encourage our students to find what they love to do and to pursue excellence in that field for the glory of God.
There is so much about this topic that we could explore and I encourage you to think about it further. I want to leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... if anything is excellent or praiseworthy... think about such things" today.