Censorship. Intolerance. Book burnings! They are all present in today’s reading.
First, censorship. The practice in the early church was a little different than what we might think of when we hear the word today. A standard was not imposed from without; believers chose to censor themselves. They chose to set limits for themselves as to what was acceptable and was not—what they would let into their hearts and minds and souls, and what they would not.
Second, intolerance. What a nasty word! In a day and age where all too often anything goes, intolerance is still an undesirable vice, an inexcusable sin. But that, of course, was not the position of the early church. In choosing standards, they committed themselves to a way of life where some things were unacceptable and out of bounds. That which did not promote their life in Christ, they did not tolerate.
And third, book burnings. Fifty thousand silver coins worth of books! Ouch! The books they burned were presumably their “magic” books; books that spoke of putting one’s trust in someone or something other than God as he is revealed in Jesus. It all seems a little extreme. Or does it?
Are there things—movies, books, internet sites, TV shows, video games, etc—that we should do a better job of “censoring” from our hearts and minds and souls? Are their standards to which we should be so committed that we are not willing to tolerate that which violates them? Should we irrevocably part with things that keep us tied to our old ways of living, and that keep us from putting our trust fully in God and following him?
Hmmm… Extreme though they may be, it seems to me those might be questions well worth asking