Tuning In To God
Who’s tired of reality TV? Apparently not the majority of the television-watching world. What’s the fascination with scrutinizing vapid dating rituals and glorified talent shows?
I don’t know, but I’m hooked. And with my growing addiction to reality TV I’m aware that I’ve created my own American idol. I’ve always had a problem curtailing my voluminous viewing, but in the past two years, I’ve found myself mapping my week by which reality shows I couldn’t miss. At one terrifying juncture about six months ago, I realized with shame that every night afforded me some quasi-voyeuristic network program with which to while away my precious free time. I used to consider myself a fairly erudite and artistically minded guy. Now I find myself rushing to put my 18-month-old son to bed so I can perch on my couch before prime time.
While thinking about this article, I happened upon Ephesians 2. Verse 2 stuck out immediately in context of reality TV:
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air... (KJV)
“Prince of the power of the air” immediately brought to mind graphic metaphorical images of Satan slithering through cable lines and satellite waves, offering tempting distractions in the form of seemingly innocuous shows. But the majority of the shows play on our baser instincts—toying with people’s emotions for the sake of fame and cash or purposefully leading people astray to see if they'll stay faithful to their spouse. Considering the speed at which the moral caliber of these shows is declining, I wouldn’t be surprised if a reality show featuring outright crime hits the airwaves soon. Maybe we'll see The Accomplice, where contestants team up with a famed bank thief to try to crack the world’s toughest security systems. Or how about a show for drug pushers called Average Blow?
Satan knows what buttons to push to get our focus away from God, especially the ones on our TV remote. In and of themselves, some of the reality shows are harmless fun or even edifying. However, the ease and speed at which we can get mired in the things of this world is staggering. One “innocent” show leads to others that concentrate on “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind.” Gaggles of scantily clad youth scheming for wealth in hot tubs is not just reality TV—it’s opening your mind and spirit up to the prince of the power of the air and his minions.
So how do we tackle the overwhelming societal influence of reality TV with our drama and music? Drama-wise, one strategy is to emulate Jesus and incorporate the use of parables. Jesus was a master storyteller but used his verbal illustrations for a purpose.
Stories encourage our imagination, the cognitive and emotional tool that mirrors God as the creator. Jesus could have answered the disciple’s questions flat out, but by encouraging them to come up with answers themselves, he taught them how to learn rather than simply listen. Any drama that encourages our imagination towards a positive spiritual end in this fashion edifies the Holy Spirit within us as well as our minds.
Music is another incredible tool to motivate the creative spirit of our imaginations. Much of today’s rap or pop music leaves nothing to the imagination, either in lyrical or musical content. Artists don’t even work with innuendo anymore but use inappropriate words and images along with heartless tunes that repeat over and over without a bridge or even multiple verses. But when music contains Scripture for lyrics or is composed in an attitude of prayer, we can worship while we whistle a favorite tune.
When working on drama or music for your church or program, ask yourself how the material can bring a viewer/listener into closer contact with the Lord. How can you draw a person away from the broad path that leads to destruction onto the narrow path towards paradise? Sometimes we need to be reminded in crystal clear terms that we can’t serve two masters. Fortunately, we know that grace restores our position with the father, and we are reminded of our allegiance with the Prince of Peace rather than the prince of the air:
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).
Ephesians 2:4—5 (NKJV)
Always prayerfully ask yourself and your audience—whose footprints do you follow? It’s the world or the Way.