One season of television watching has recently ended, with viewers beginning another round of television programs and anticipating the return of new and favorites in later months. Counting all of the programs on cable, it is actually astounding that we have evolved into a reality-television society for over a decade. Let me say something on record since I brought this up—we watch far too much television these days (we have become a very hedonistic society of people, driven to seek that which offers us pleasure, much of which we obtain through an electrical box or screen in our homes, but I am in danger of getting off my subject), much of which consists of reality-television themes. While there are just a few that I admit I enjoy (Amazing Race, for one, although I do not like many side-themes or sub-plots), the vast majority of them have recently caused me to ponder with revolt. Why would people actually want to waste their day watching a dance teacher yell at their children? Why would people actually want to waste their time watching a man talk to animals? Why would a Christian want to watch scantily-clad couples dance at all? Mark my words—so much of what we (and our children, especially, need to understand this important lesson) view on television is fake and exploitive! Because so many people drive themselves to catch their moment of fame, they will exploit the audience (as well as television producers) and often sensationalize themselves, as we often see increasingly happen in these types of programming. I personally realized this lesson first-hand many years ago. My wife, Melissa, and I were interviewed by a television producer in hopes of going on a television show on HGTV. We knew as soon as the phone conversation ended that we had no chance, because we were sure that we came across as the most boring couple in the entire world (we may still be, but I digress). Naturally, they did not select us for their program. However, if we had “acted” in a spunky way, possibly coming up with sensationalized attributes about us (if not flat-out falsifying), the outcome would have been different. In my humble opinion, I believe this underscores a serious flaw we currently face as a society—far too many people (and Christians, too) lack any serious purpose in life. As children of God, we must come to realize that our sole existence depends on the glorification of God (Eph. 3:20-21). To accomplish this, we must become dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
First, to attain our purpose in life, we must deny self. There is no place for selfishness, self-centeredness and pride in Christianity; yet, our television programs reek of it. I must examine myself and ensure that I am living for God and not for myself (cf. Luke 14:26; Phil. 3:8; 1 Pet. 4:1-2). I must deny myself as Jesus denied himself (2 Cor. 8:9). I must put others before myself (Rom. 15:1; 1 Cor. 10:24; Phil. 2:4), and not become a stumbling block to them (Rom. 14:21).
Second, to attain our purpose in life, we must take up our mutual crosses. “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). This is exactly what Jesus told the rich young ruler to do, along with the other conditions He stated (Mark 10:21). Thus, “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Rom. 8:36). This is why Paul was able to declare, “I am crucified with Christ….” (Gal. 2:20). The idea of taking up our cross and putting ourselves to death is to put whatever we have that will get in the way of serving God to death (Rom. 6:6; 8:13; Gal. 5:24; Matt. 5:29; 18:8; Col. 3:5).
Third, to attain our purpose in life, we must replace self with daily discipleship. Just as the Old Testament priests were to offer sacrifices every day, we in the New Testament are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices every day (Rom. 12:1). The problem with being living sacrifices is that many on Monday get up from off the altar and leave. It is not enough for humanity just to know Jesus, but all must conform to His pattern and follow Him! Christ is our example to follow (Matt. 11:29; John 13:15; Phil. 2:5; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pet. 2:21). Therefore, we must follow Christ in both teaching and example!
Therefore, when we are convicted with a passion to live for Jesus Christ every day, we will not seek to sensationalize ourselves in a reality-television way, neither will we enjoy others doing so, but we will truly understand what it means to glorify God in all that we do!