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THE EMPTINESS OF AMERICAN POP CULTURE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, January 12, 2003


"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18).


A young person like you must have an insight that other young people don't have, if you hope to become a real Christian. Often this insight comes like a flash of light. To others it becomes a growing awareness. The insight of which I speak is an intuitive, penetrating, spontaneous perception that our culture offers nothing of real value, and creates no real happiness. It often comes rather quickly, like a flash of light, into an unconverted person's mind. That flash of understanding can be summed up in the words of our text:

"The things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
    (II Corinthians 4:18).

Here is how the penetrating insight of that truth flashed into a young man's mind one evening a few years ago. He was lonely, so he went to a bar and had a few drinks. He looked across the room and saw a very beautiful girl, who was laughing with her lovely head thrown back, talking to some guy. The lights were flashing and the music was pulsating, and the alcohol was surging through his body. He took several steps across the crowded dance floor, until he stood directly behind the laughing girl. When he was about 18 inches from her, she turned around abruptly and looked him directly in the eyes.  And he looked straight into her eyes. She was very lovely to look upon. Her mouth was wide open in laughter, showing her perfect, white teeth. But the young man did not look at her mouth. He was gazing into her eyes. Suddenly he realized that there was no laughter in her eyes at all.

Everything else about her was full of life and gaiety and fun, but he noticed a strange, cold, haunted look in his eyes. He set down his glass of liquor, turned around, and left the bar. As he stood outside in the cool night air he thought, "That girl and everyone else in there are as lonely as I am. Their laughter is as empty as hers. There's nothing there for me that will cure my loneliness and make me truly happy."

A few weeks later that young man became a real Christian. He had experienced a flash of insight that night which showed him that nothing in the party world, or in the material world in general, could ever satisfy him. This led him to seek Christ in a real conversion. His name is Dr. John S. Waldrip, and he is now the pastor of a Baptist church in Monrovia, California.

In that moment, watching the lonely eyes of that beautiful, laughing girl in a bar, he saw for the first time in his life that

"The things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
    (II Corinthians 4:18).

It changed the course of his entire life.

Have you had such a flash of understanding, or a growing awareness of it, yet? If you haven't you are not yet a Christian.

I will speak of that "flash of understanding" this morning. I will speak


1. First, of the negative impact of such an insight.

2. Second, the positive impact of such an insight.

I. First, the negative impact of such an insight.

When you first begin to feel that the things other young people are doing are of no lasting value, and bring no lasting happiness, you will probably think that you are weird. After all, aren't the lights and music and excitement at Universal City Walk really where the action is? Isn't this where young people really have fun? Isn't this the place to enjoy yourself and find the fun and meaning you have been searching for in your life? You may think, "Why am I so weird? Why can't I just surge along with the excitement and enjoy myself?"

But the Spirit of God has singled you out among the hundreds of kids at the Universal Walk, or the rave, or wherever it is that you are partying. And God's Spirit is showing you that it's all a make-believe show, which has no real substance to it. And you suddenly realize that you will be just as lonely as ever when it's over.  You have seen a great truth:  American pop culture is sterile and empty.  

Salvatore Chiappa, a 21-year-old Italian navy sentry, was sentenced to five months in jail by a military tribunal because he left his post. He told the court that he was afraid of standing alone in the dark, so afraid that he left his post. Chiappa's problem was twofold: he feared the darkness, and he did not like standing alone.

A chill ran down my spine as I read that: he feared the dark, and he did not like being alone.

Have you ever felt like that, young person? Have you ever felt that you feared the darkness of the world? Have you ever felt afraid of being all alone?

When you first experience the impact of my text, that is exactly the way you will feel.

"For the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
    (II Corinthians 4:18).

You feel all alone in a crowd. No one really understands you. No one really cares about you. You have no one to share your inner fears and struggles with - certainly not your parents! Most of them have no idea of the fear and loneliness you are going through. They are too busy doing their own thing to listen to you. And if they did listen, they would never understand.

You see, your parents are all messed up by our materialistic culture - which is often called "the culture of death." They are too busy - to listen to you or help you - busy making more and more money - busy trying to have fun by spending money, drinking, dancing, going to Las Vegas, perhaps using "recreational drugs" to make themselves feel a false happiness. Watching endless hours of trash TV.

But what about you? They leave you alone, alone to wander around your high school or college campus, alone in your room in front of a lifeless computer. They want you to live like them - but you don't really want that. You know that their way of life has left them empty - and it will leave you empty and alone too, if you live your life the way they do. And you know I'm right - don't you?

That's the reason we say to leave your parents' way of life. "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!" But you will never see the need to leave the materialist life-style unless you have this flash of insight:

"For the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
    (II Corinthians 4:18).

Your parents lived only for money and pleasure. Their old Hippie generation created the pop-culture that you live in. Your parents want you to be just like them. They want you to live only to make money and have "fun." You must have a flash of spiritual insight to see that your parents' way of looking at things is wrong. They live only for the things they can see and feel - but your parents are wrong.

"For the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
    (II Corinthians 4:18).

The pop-culture created by your parents' materialism and hedonism doesn't satisfy your heart. Rap music, electronica, raves, endless movies, continual junk TV - none of it helps. You are still lonely.

According to Dr. Leonard Zunin, a prominent psychiatrist, your worst problem is loneliness. Psychoanalyst Dr. Erich Fromm said, "The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison house of his aloneness."

And there is no place more lonely for young people than a big city like Los Angeles. Author Herbert Prochnow said, "A city is a large community where people are lonesome together." Literally millions of young people in cities like ours are lonely. How about you?

Your parents either divorced or fight with each other most of the time. They are so concerned with having "fun," and making more and more money, that they have no time for you. They come home tired and flop down in front of the television. They have no energy left to listen to you. Isn't that right? Your parents don't really understand you, do they? They don't really listen to your problems, do they?

They can't help you overcome loneliness - and you know it! You knew it before I said it - didn't you?

Your so-called "friends" don't help much either - do they? You are afraid to tell them your inner turmoils and fears. You're afraid they will think you are "weird" if you tell them what's actually bothering you. You're afraid you'll lose them if you "open up" to them. So you hang around them with a fake smile on your face - like that girl John Waldrip saw in a bar before he got saved. There's a smile on your face, but not in your heart! You can't really trust your "friends" enough to tell them about your inner fears. You might lose them - and be even lonelier than you are now. You feel like the Psalmist, who said, "I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop" (Psalm 102:7).

No wonder so many young people take drugs - to try to stop the loneliness. When the drugs don't work - they turn to suicide. They are saying, in the words of an old rock song, "I can't live in a world without love." How about you?

You see, the materialism and "fun" of the pop culture your parents created is just a passing, temporary, cheap fake. It isn't the real world at all. It's just weird Michael Jackson, and Jennifer Lopez, and drugs, and a hangover - and more loneliness! Your parents have nothing else to offer you!

Yes, your parents really messed you up by giving you a false view of life. That's why you're so lonely. But their world is wrong. It isn't the real world at all.

"For the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
    (II Corinthians 4:18).

II. But, secondly, there's a positive impact to such an insight.

When I was a teenager I remember thinking, "It's all going to pass away. Everything is going to be gone. Everyone is going to be dead." That's a negative thought - but there's a positive side to it. When you start thinking like that, you may turn to drugs or suicide - but you may turn to God! I'm not talking about "religion" or the church your parents went to occasionally. Oh, no! I'm talking about GOD! And God said:

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

Yes, you can find the true and living God! That's why God gave you this church! God put this local church here so that people like you could be happy together - and not be lonely! Our church is here to cure your loneliness! That's the reason we say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!"

Nothing takes away loneliness like the local church! But you must come in and be with us every time the door is open. It won't cure your loneliness to come home to church once or twice a year - or even once or twice a month. Come on in! Why be lonely? Come home - to church!

We have something going on Thursday night, Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night. If you come every week, you will not be lonely! Come and have fun with us!

That's the first step, getting into this church. And then come to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins. Christ rose physically from the dead, and is alive right now at God's right hand in Heaven. I know you can't see Him with your physical eyes - but remember:

"We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time, temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal"
(II Corinthians 4:18).

Come back next Sunday! Why not come back at 6:30 tonight? Come and find Christ! Come and have fun with us. The pop culture out there has nothing as good as this! This is as good as it gets! Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Come and find Christ! Come and have fun with us!


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Corinthians 4:16-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Never Lonely, Never Fearing"
(by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE EMPTINESS OF AMERICAN POP CULTURE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [only for a time; temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18).

           I.   The negative impact of such an insight, Psalm 102:7.

           II.  The positive impact of such an insight, Jeremiah 29:13.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."