Take your pencil and underline a key phrase in v. 19 — “having lost all sensitivity”. This is one of the greatest dangers that we face in our modern, technological cultures. Being inundated with information in a continuous stream, it is very easy to become numb to the ungodly and destructive messages we receive every day. It’s a lot like entering into a very cold swimming pool. When you dip your toe into cold water you immediately jerk it back because of the shock. But, if you place your feet in the water and sit for a while, you eventually get used to it. Then you move down one step and get into the water up to the mid-thigh. After the shock of this wears off we move a little further down, then a little further, until, eventually, we can go all the way in without feeling the shock. After swimming a while we realize that our body is completely numb because of the cold water and we can’t really feel anything. Did the water change temperature? No. What changed was our sensitivity to the water.
Our culture is like that cold water. One area where this desensitizing can easily happen is in our own living room, through the TV. At first we watch a TV show that has some harsh words or discusses some off-color subjects. At first we flinch at it, but we quickly dismiss it and say that we watch the show because of the great story telling, or the witty humor. As this show becomes a regular part of our lives, it then becomes easier to watch another show that may have some more questionable material — a new step, a momentary flinch — then…numb again. Before we realize what is happening, we don’t even notice the distasteful humor and the vulgarity of the show and we are laughing at things that, in our real lives would disgust us and cause us to blush.
This is a very subtle and very difficult matter to deal with in our culture. How do we stay clean and stay pure before God without just burying our head in the sand and not going outside, turning on the radio, the TV, or the internet? The answer is found in v. 23. We are called to be made new in the attitude of our minds. As a follower of Christ it is our duty to saturate our minds with the teaching of scripture and to transform our lenses to be colored with the perspective of the Kingdom of God. This means that we should be spending time each day soaking our brain in scripture (since you are reading these words, you are at least attempting to do so…good job). We should also be participating in group discussion of scripture and the practical side of how to apply scriptural principles to everyday life. In the context of community we can be “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) and more quickly bring our minds and attitudes into alignment with God’s perspective. We should also submit ourselves to solid biblical teaching in order to be challenged and stimulated in our thinking.
As Christians we are to stay sharp. We should not become desensitized to the corruption of the world around us. Let us maintain a soft and sensitive spirit. Godlessness should always cause us pain. We do not have to let the pain destroy us. That is one reason why we have the Holy Spirit. He can take the pain and transform it into compassion. Rather than being like the world, we should be like Christ in the world, so that the world, which is living in their own darkness, can see that there is a light by which they can travel. Let’s stay sensitive and be the light of hope to the dark world.