Something happened last night that got me thinking. We were all sitting down as a family to watch a movie together, when one of our younger children started to cry and tell us that the movie we had just started was scary. We’d watched it maybe a year before. Everyone sighed and muttered under their breaths that she was being ridiculous, and that this was a comedy, PG rated and nothing to be afraid of.
However she kept protesting, saying that people died and she didn’t want to watch. My husband and I looked at one another and realised she was right. At the very beginning of the movie someone was murdered, not graphically or even dramatically, but nevertheless, murdered.
I’ve been teaching the kids to think on whatever things are true, just, pure, lovely and worth giving a shout about. But we didn’t’ model that last night in our initial movie choice. We were asking our own children to watch a depiction of someone being murdered!
How is it that we have become so desensitised to violence and darkness that we hardly flinch?
Recently our family visited Rome and the Colosseum. We stood and looked at this large memorial to the ancient world and marvelled that it was still standing. We discussed the events that had taken place within it’s walls, and shook our heads at the death and violence which had served as entertainment for centuries there.
History documents that the number of people who died in the Roman Colosseum was about 400,000, plus approximately 1 million animals.
The Roman Colosseum was a major venue that hosted different events. The shows were usually open to the public and were considered as a way to keep the people happy. There was seating for more than 50,000 spectators. Awnings were unfurled from the top story in order to protect the audience from the hot Roman sun as they watched gladiatorial combats, hunts, and wild animal fights called bestiary where groups of men condemned to death were forced to fight exotic dangerous animals for the delight of crowds. The most common show was the fighting of gladiators, which was a fight to the death. Famous gladiators had a huge following, but all of them were there to be killed and entertain. Many of the gladiators were prisoners of war, and nearly 50 percent died each “show”.
The Colosseum saw some four centuries of active use, until the struggles of the Western Roman Empire and the gradual change in public tastes put an end to such public entertainments by the 6th century A.D.
We now think the Colosseum, and all the torture and killing that went on in that time is primitive and shocking. But perhaps we all now just have Miniature Colosseums in our lounge rooms instead.
We happily allow ourselves to be entertained by the depiction of people being murdered, beaten up and attacked most nights with what we watch, play, listen to and read. We pay for it, just as the ancient Romans did, and we make those who entertain us famous by our esteem. Money is still made, empires are still built, violence is still celebrated, and life is still depicted as cheap.
Once we were outraged and moved to call for peace through the viewing of the atrocities of war and injustice on our screens. But it’s now become so prevalent on our devices we are almost emotionally and mentally immune to it.
We complain and shake our heads at the behavior and wickedness in the world, yet society has fed our young people for generations violence and images of evil.
How are we any different from those who came out to watch public executions, or the ancient Romans at the Colosseum. Now it’s just more widespread, and potentially more destructive.
The prince of the air has changed tact. Instead of one location, he has saturated the airways, the screens, the internet, and our homes and lives. Sadly we too can be “entertained” by death, violence, immortality, and a lack of respect and honour for another’s life.
Behind it all is the same spirit that instigated the ancient Romans entertainment, and many others throughout history. It’s the same spirit of violence and wickedness that encourages us to still pay to be “entertained”. Except now it is far more widespread, and little children, teenagers and whole households sit and watch. We sit by paying the gaming producers, moviemakers, and television bosses; all the while aiding the prince of the air, who goes by the name Satan.
“..You formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2)
How you ask? We aid the spread of it through the airways, because we buy it, we let our kids watch and play it and we’ve grown accustomed to it. For if we didn’t watch or buy it, there would be no market. But far too many have been seduced and sucked in, just as generations gone by were, and it’s become the norm.
But last night we switched off the Mini Colosseum in our lounge room. We switched the channel to something that wasn’t peddling death, (even if it was disguised in comedy), or allowing its spirit into our house. We stopped, and looked across at our daughter with tears streaming down her face and said “enough, she’s right”.
Let’s wake up to what has happened, and choose to be counter culture, just as Jesus was when He walked the earth. Let’s start to see things for what they are, and stop being so complacent, and compromising, and switch off, or change the channel on the miniature Colosseums in our lounge rooms.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-10)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)
“Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the very start. This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:7-8)
Prayer: Lord please help me to see things for what they are, and the spirit behind what the world says is the norm. Help me to be sensitive to evil, and remove it’s influence and impact on my life and family. In Jesus Name Amen.