For many Christians, watching a movie with some violence, bad language, and a little sex scene is no big deal. But one pastor says it can be poisoning their soul and driving them farther from God.
Pastor Craig Groeschel, who leads one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country, LifeChurch.tv, isn't calling Christians to withdraw from the world or live in a sanitized bubble, but he's warning those who follow Jesus to be more careful about what they allow into their lives. Otherwise, they might be the frog in the kettle of water unaware that it is slowly coming to a boil.
In other words, many don't even realize that they're scalding their souls.
"[W]e can't just immerse ourselves in every aspect of the world around us and let culture determine our lifestyle habits indiscriminately," Groeschel says in his newly released book, Soul Detox.
The Edmond, Okla., pastor, whose church has grown to 15 campuses, recalls living the first 18 years of his life in a home where his parents smoked. Since he was raised in such a home, he was never bothered by the smell until he went off to college.
"I didn't realize how unhealthy my home was until I got outside it enough to breathe freely and experience the difference," Groeschel recounts. "In fact, after living in a smoke-free environment for the first time ever in my college dorm, when I returned home, I was shocked.
"[A]s soon as I walked in the door, the odor slapped me in the face."
In the same way, Groeschel believes many people are not fully aware of "the forces stunting their spiritual growth." That not only includes toxic media, but also harmful relationships, negative thoughts, materialism, and addictive habits, among other things.
"I think so many of us Christians don't realize we're inhaling all sorts of things that are harmful to us," he told The Christian Post.
Christians, he stressed, are what they consume spiritually.
"We need to understand that we are not a body with a soul but we are a soul with a body," he preached last weekend at Life Church.
It's a daily battle, even for himself, Groeschel admitted to CP.
Not only are Christians bombarded with messages through different means of media, but many are also convinced that the "fun, happy, meaningful" life is offered by the world, rather than God.
"Christians are settling for a life that's so much less than what God intended and that we're easily seduced by culture into accepting things that may be harmful to our souls when God has such a better way to live," he lamented to CP.
"I would say that the closer I am to Christ the less I desire the things that this world offers and the more I drift from him, the more I crave the things this world offers. It's kind of a daily and oftentimes hour by hour, minute by minute choice to try to stay focused on Christ and what's eternal because it's so easy to get sucked into the things that aren't of him and for him."
Groeschel encourages Christians to "detoxify" their souls from guilt, fear, regret, and all the impurities that pollute their relationship with God. And he wants believers to simply ask God how He wants them to spend their time and to actually listen this time.
"For those of us who follow Jesus, everything we do, no matter where we go, should reflect our love and commitment to him," he says in Soul Detox.
"By nature we're sinners, living a life free of sin is ultimately impossible," he told CP. "But I do think there's a level of purity both through Christ and practically living as well that's attainable, that's really greater than most of us realize."
While confession may be a starting point for some Christians in detoxifying their soul, for others, they may want to start at the movies. When in doubt, ask, "Does this draw me closer to Christ or lure me away?"
If it's neutral, it's your call, Groeschel recommends. If it has the potential to harm your relationship with Christ, "don't risk your most important treasure."