We’ve been talking about The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis and in the last post I told you that we would talk about our habits, our pet peeves, and how our enemy, Satan actually wants us to be religious.
I feel like I need to remind you that this book was originally written during the second World War. But somehow Lewis wrote it in such a way that if you were to read it today thinking it was written yesterday, you’d have no idea that it’s nearly 80 years old.
Habits, that’s what chapter two brings up. The habits of each person and how they can be used to drive a wedge between you and other believers, and between you and Jesus. One of those habits that prove most useful to Satan and his demons, is the habit most of us have of finding what annoys us about a person and then using that annoyance as the reason we don’t befriend them.
If you can admit it, you are among the few. I came to this realization only after I joined the church I now call home. Before that, I was unaware of how the world trains you to pinpoint the people different from yourself. In today’s world those differences are supposed to be celebrated, at least that’s what the media and the government tell you to do. But if you really, truly take an honest look at the tolerance preaching movement of the day, they don’t want people that hold opinions or beliefs that differ from their own. They want people who conform to their agenda, who happen to look different but not act different. And if Satan has his way, you, as a Christian will also take that menality – preach diversity but enforce conformity. And, do it in the name of Jesus.
I mentioned how I was unaware of this before joining the church of which I now belong. After joining and submitting myself to God, I was taught that not all of God’s people look and act the same. I thought that I knew that but looking back I see that diversity was not preached at other churches I attended, nor was the idea that worship can look different from one person to another, not to mention from one culture to another.
Those are habits, habits that the world teaches us, and in some cases, the church teaches. This is where Satan thrives – lets you believe that you are a good God-fearing Christian without letting you see that you actually think only Christians who look like you, act like you, talk like you, and believe like you are the only ones getting to heaven.
This is also where Satan actually likes the idea of you being religious. He will keep you so focused on the wrongs of other people that you’ll completely forget about yours. He’ll encourage you to come up with rules and then make other people follow them before you can admit them into heaven as if you’re the gatekeeper. Satan loves legalism and the notion that we need to earn God’s love.
My favorite quote from chapter two is this; “…he still believes he has run up a very favorable credit balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted.” (Keep in mind that it’s a demon saying this, when he says Enemy, he’s actually talking about God. God is his enemy) In other words, Satan wants us to think that we need to earn God’s love because the longer we think our salvation is in our hands is the longer we see a distorted picture of who God actually is.
There’s a question Satan wants to keep out of your mind and that question comes up at the end of chapter two; ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’
What a person does, how they act, dress, talk, or what they look like has absolutely no bearing on how much God loves them. The same goes for you, that’s why it doesn’t matter what the person in the pew behind you or in front of you does on Saturday – God’s grace is bigger, and better than any ill conceived notion that they should do better or be better so they can be like you and go to heaven.
Satan loves it when we point our fingers at each other rather than taking a look in the mirror. Don’t let him win by letting those thoughts of so’n’so take you over. Yes, they’re sinners, but so are you. The good news is, God loves you too much to let a pesky little thing like sin get in the way of you being with Him.
Focus on that today, you’re a sinner, Jesus died for it. You can’t earn it, you get it anyway. You don’t deserve it, it’s yours anyway. We don’t worship God because we are good, we do it because He is good, and no matter what else is going on, nobody can take His love from us. Not other people, not Satan and his demons… NOBODY.
Dear God, thank you for being you, thank you for being good. We wouldn’t even know what good is if it weren’t what happened at the cross and we thank you so much for that.
Help us to see other people from your perspective and through your eyes, not from where we sit in church on Sunday. God, we pray not that you are on our side, but that we are on yours. Amen.
Last Christmas I asked for and then received a book by C.S Lewis called The Screwtape Letters. I knew then that this was a book quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before, a book containing the fictional letters between a demon and what he calls his nephew and their conversation about how to win souls from their enemy i.e God.
Admittedly I was a bit hesitant due to to my ignorance in regards to spiritual warfare. I thought it wrong to talk about such things, to read such a book where demons are the main characters. Nevertheless I asked for it, I had to, it was written by C.S Lewis after all and he wrote Mere Christianity! A book I fell in love with after just a few pages.
Even after reading the first few chapters of Screwtape Letters the thought that it must be wrong to read such a book kept creeping back into my head. Then, I believe The Holy Spirit nudged me in a way I was quite unfamiliar with – He showed me that my hesitation is talked about in the very first chapter! My enemy, Satan and his demons do not want me to reason my way to the truth. They don’t want me to see them for what they truly are, they don’t want me thinking. That’s exactly what happens in the first chapter when the target of the demon (the book calls him a patient) begins to argue with his friend the ‘materialist’. Arguments, Screwtape tells us are bad, and for him they are, but in this instance the argument is more of a debate between a guy who believes in what he can see and touch and another guy who’s questioning the possibility that this life is not all there is and that it’s possible that God does indeed exist. Arguments are bad for our enemy because reason (despite what our culture tells you) is actually on the side of our Lord.
Needless to say, after just the first few paragraphs of Screwtape I was hooked. Yes, it takes a little bit of adjusting and what I mean is usually you read a book and it’s a story from the perspective of the main character. In Screwtape it’s a series of letters from the perspective of a demon. The adjustment comes when you read that he refers to God as the Enemy (capital E), where when we Christians use that word, we’re talking about Satan. Also when you see the word ‘good’ it’s used in the context of what the demon sees as good, not what we would see as good. So all of this can be a little confusing but once you move past that it’s hard to see anything but C.S Lewis behind the typewriter, and a brilliant writer he is.
Having said all that, my chapter one review is this – it’s spot on! If he (the enemy, small e) can get us thinking about things other than absolute truth, then his foot is in the door. If he can distract us with real life like he does his patient in chapter one, then our foothold begins to fade. If he can get us to believe assertions made by non believers instead of letting us argue our way through them, then he’s already won.
You’ll see all of those things happen in chapter one and I must say, to read this from my perspective, at this time in my life, with the circumstances I’m in right now, it truly is no coincidence that eleven months after receiving this book, I’m beginning to read it now.
The spiritual battle for my house has been waging on and never before have I been so aware of it. It’s like God opened my eyes to it not unlike He did for Elijah’s servant in 2 Kings 6.
I have read the first three chapters and then I read them again, Lewis is truly a wordsmith. My plan is to go through this book, twice or even three times if I have to because I want to understand what it must be like to be my enemy and try to get me to forget about God’s plan for my life. I want to frustrate whatever evil is lurking in my life, I want to follow Jesus so closely that the evils have no choice but to stay far away.
My summary of chapter one if I’m not using the five star rating system I’d like to, is that it’s brilliantly written! It will make you think about the spiritual war like you never have before. This book is going to open your eyes to the schemes of the enemy and yes, of course the Bible already does that and the Bible isn’t fiction like Screwtape but C.S Lewis has a gift from God that allowed him to put in such a way as to be helpful to us who chose to follow Jesus.
“..so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” 2 cor 2:11
My favorite quote from chapter one is this “…they find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is right before their eyes.” Distractions, or as the book calls it ‘real life’ is the enemy’s best tool. Keep us thinking about what we can see right in front of us so we aren’t thinking about spiritual things, keep us busy so we don’t have time to sit and read God’s word or pray or go to church or have fellowship with other Christians or go to a Bible study.
Sadly, it’s worked. We are so busy these days that we’ve turned being busy into an idol – we ask people “keepin’ busy?” sometimes it’s said “stayin’ outta trouble?” which is ironic because apparently we stay out of trouble by keeping busy but by keeping busy we make no time for God.
Satan doesn’t care if we don’t worship him directly, as long as we don’t worship Jesus, he’s in. That’s why real life, or the things of this world are Satan’s greatest and most influential tools, he can use it to distract us long enough so we don’t have time to think about God.
Take for example when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness – Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world, Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9 NIV Satan does this to us all the time. He promises fame, fortune, power. He promises us all the things we want if we just worship him. If we worship the One thing he can’t give us, he has no hold on us, he has no power and he can’t tempt us into anything.
Anyway, I could go on forever about how real life and the things right before our eyes can be used against us, but I really do want you to keep reading so I try not to ramble. Next time we’ll talk a little bit about how our habits and pet peeves can get in the way between us and Jesus, we’ll go over how Satan actually wants us to be religious.
Thanks for reading.
Recently you kidnapped and held for ransom the person I hold most dear, you took her peace and her joy, you robbed her of her comfort. You stripped her of laughter, love and at times, life.
You took from me my wife, my love, my better half. You made her feel like a hostage in her own body, a captive in her own mind. You enslaved her to thoughts that aren’t her own, to ideas she never would’ve come up with, to fear and doubt and lies.
You took from two boys a mother who personified strength, courage, perseverance and patience. A mother who knew what her boys needed before they ever felt the inkling that they had a need. A mother who would lay her life down for her family.
Anxiety; you locked in chains and put in bondage one of God’s warriors and I’m here to tell you that your numbers up, I’m coming for you, I have you in my crosshairs and you won’t survive my wrath.
You might be a Goliath, big and strong and vicious. You are intimidating and scary and frankly? I don’t know how to take you down, but I do know I’m going to. So I’ll tell you again, I’m putting you on notice, your time is short.
You see, you’re acting like a Goliath but I know that you’re really just a coward who attacks those who let their guard down, you’re a liar who lies so much you believe them yourself, you lure away the innocent because they’re trusting people. But you see, wannabe Goliath, I see you for who you truly are, a devil.
I have news for you you thief, I too have been posing, I have been posing as a meek little shepherd boy, much like the shepherd boy you’ve encountered before, you remember the one? Yeah, him. The one who beat you with a slingshot and cut off your ugly head. Yeah, he’s a sweet summer day compared to what I’m going to do with you!
Wanna know how I know? God has been grooming me for this day for a long time now and I admit, I didn’t always know what His plan for me was but He has revealed Himself to me in the last few weeks and even though I don’t know His whole plan, I know enough to know that you and I are going to end up in the ring together, and you know what else devil? I know that I win!
It all started when I began to obey God’s call on my life, you know I’ve been a Christian for a while now, albeit a disobedient one but a Christian nonetheless. But one day I decided that God knew better than me so I started doing things that I would never have done before, I began going to social functions at church or with people from church and I think that looking back, that’s when you (Goliath or whatever you wanna call yourself) realized you were going to lose this fight so you also upped your game, not enough, but hey you tried.
After conforming to God’s will in my life I got to know other Christians, strong ones, men who also let God lead. These men spoke life into my existence and meaning into my life, purpose into my work and Jesus into my family. In other words, I got to know other warriors who would one day help me take you down.
These warriors have families who’ve also taken up the sword of truth and they too stand on the front line between you and our loved ones. You cannot penetrate this line Goliath, no matter how big you try to make yourself seem. Actually, you kinda now remind me more of a peacock, you’re small but when threatened you spread out your wings to make yourself look bigger when in reality, you’re still just a bird who can’t even fly.
I know God’s been grooming me for this because I now see why all the podcasts I listen to have talked about strong manly leadership in the home. I see why the sermons I download have been telling me the hard truths about what it takes to lead. I see now why certain books were placed in front of me, I see why certain people were placed in my life, I see now how God has been putting the pieces together, I see how far back this plan has been in place, I see you, anxiety.
You wanna know the funny thing about it? I’ve been fighting from my place beside my bed, on my knees. I’ve been calling on the One who is and is to come, calling on He that is living in me who is greater than you who lives in the world. Calling on someone who can flick you away without batting an eye, I have on my side the One who created you and can end you with a word. It’s funny because I didn’t think about it before, but you never stood a chance.
So listen here, liar. I know now that I really had no reason to fear you. You manipulate and scheme and deceive and steal but I have as a savior who gives that which you can’t take away – life!
You can attack one of God’s people hoping to knock them down, you can attack my wife hoping to take her from me and that must’ve taken some gall, I’ll give you that, but I don’t know if you realized that by coming after her that you’d be faced with the force of her friends and family. We are ruthless, we won’t give up, we see the lies you’ve been telling us and we’ll counter them with the truth. We recognize the fear you’re trying to make us feel, but we rely on a God who tells us to have no fear. We see you for what you really are – a soon to be distant memory crushed by the feet of God’s kids.
One last thing oh enemy of ours, your attack on my love is going to make us stronger and don’t think I’m thanking you, I’m not. I’m thanking God for being that strength when we are weak. Due to the events you forced us to deal with, this group of Christians is even stronger, even more equipped to handle whatever you can throw at us. You tipped your hand and I know how to beat you, I won’t give up, I may grow weary, and tire of your antics. I may get angry and I might even become discouraged, but remember, Jesus doesn’t. Jesus is stronger, better, more powerful. He loves us and already did what I could never do, He doesn’t just have my back, He fights for me, He fights for everyone who belongs to Him and you can’t beat Him. You’ve tried before and you lost. I’ve read the Book and you know what? You lose!
Until the day comes when I get to fire the kill shot, you should know that I won’t let you sleep, I’ll keep speaking the truth, I’ll keep getting down on my knees and thanking God, I’ll keep praying and reading my Bible, I’ll keep getting together with other believers because I know you prefer us to be divided and alone where you can spin your web of lies. I will keep leaning on my Savior and when I beat you, be warned, that woman you came after, my wife, she’s going to come back stronger and better than ever, and if you had a hard time with her support team, you don’t stand a chance with her!
I actually kinda feel sorry for you, but this was your choice now deal with it.
There’s a sense in the Christian world that pulling back from the rest of the world is what we need to do, separate ourselves and therefore avoid the temptations and the sins that they thrust upon us as, normal.
I totally get it, I turn on the TV to watch one of my favorite shows and it happens to be on the news and I instantly cringe, reaching for the remote to change the channel as fast as I can because I know that whatever topic they’re on, it’s going to anger me in some way. Realizing of course that that might be a me problem and not a they problem I’m usually able to take a deep breath and relax but the idea of just totally disengaging with anything secular is still really appealing.
Think about it for a minute, watching TV shows that only affirm what I believe, living with people who don’t challenge my faith every step of the way, working in a place where everyone agrees that God is great. The urge sometimes to pack up and move to a cabin in the mountains, live off the land, home school my kids and throw away everything electronic (except the air conditioner) is at times really strong. Forget all the politics and ideas jammed down our throats 24/7 and just live.
It’s always been a fantasy of mine to spend some time away from civilization taking with me of course all the comforts I’ve come to love, and need. Live this life as if I’m already in heaven.
But we can’t have it both ways can we? I can’t simultaneously shun television while enjoying the entertainment it offers. I can’t condemn the smartphone at the same time as typing this blog. I can’t attack the beliefs of other people while encouraging them to embrace mine.
That tension we live in is called life and the place is earth, and God knew that once we allowed sin to enter the world life would look different than what He set up for us. That’s why He sent Jesus, to give us back the hope that we had abandoned.
Knowing that, when the topics of certain politicians come up I can smile and say “aaannyywaayyys”. When non believers say something that threatens my beliefs I can see that not as a personal attack but as a cry for help. I can see how the challenges to my faith make it grow instead of making me doubt.
The tension between our faith in God and living in a world that wants to reject Him can be confusing because as humans we don’t like tension and our natural instinct is to get rid of that which makes things tense. But if we can learn to embrace it, we may just have a leg up on what I’ll call the ‘other side’, not for divisive purposes but solely for this illustration; the other side from a Biblical worldview is everything that goes against the Biblical worldview and that other side does the same thing we like to do – separate themselves from the tension – us. We (I say we and us because my readers are primarily Christian) call this spiritual warfare, they call it divisive politics, either way the end game is to separate and destroy. If we don’t play into the politics, if we don’t believe the lies being thrown at us, if we see the other side as people and not the other side, our leg up on them can actually be a leg up on us all, as a whole.
You see, God doesn’t want there to be division, He wants everyone to enjoy the peace that He offers but He knows that many will reject Him and then set their crosshairs on His children, He told us this would happen but He never said we should isolate ourselves, or separate ourselves, or cower under the pressure of those who wish to wipe away every mention of His Name. He did say to stand up and dress ourselves with truth and courage, He did say that we would be attacked both spirituality and physically, He did say that the other side would be ruthless in their endeavor to silence us for the truth we speak is offensive to those who don’t want to hear it.
My church is currently doing a series on spiritual warfare and my wife and I feel that our marriage and our family is being attacked right now by the enemy because he doesn’t like it when families are strong and marriages are growing. He hates it when faith is getting stronger and the Bible is being read, he hates it when friends come together and learn and read and pray and he will use any path he can to get in there and plant seeds of doubt and fear, he’ll use physical ailments and anxiety attacks but I know from experience he prefers to remain subtle so we don’t see that it’s him, but I know who it is and I also know the Victor in this supernatural war taking place, I’ve read the end of the Book and I know Who wins!
I don’t know where this all came from, I hope it made sense. These are my thoughts without any study just led by the Holy Spirit. I’m in a tiny waiting room and there’s soft music playing so I decided to let the Holy Spirit lead my thoughts and guide my fingers as I type away on my smartphone and this is what I’ve got, hope you enjoyed it.
Never before in the history of the world has mankind been so connected, and I’m not saying that in a good way. From the moment we wake up we are inundated with whatever is going on and the opinions expressed on social media about what’s going on.
I’m serious, it would not surprise me if someday soon the rear window of your car is basically going to be a big screen where you can express to the car behind you what you think about anything and everything.
I went to Toronto earlier this year for work and the hotel room bathroom mirror had a TV in it! When you turn it on it went automatically to the morning news so you wouldn’t miss anything while you dress after your shower.
Just the other day I was at the dentist’s office and of course the TV in the waiting room was on CBC News going on and on, over and over again about Trump, the hurricanes, and the Vegas shooting… And we’re in Canada!
Generally speaking we all wanna know what’s trending, what’s going on, what’s in and what’s out. We have to know what Trump said this time and we all have opinions on how to fix our country and many of us take our opinions to Facebook so we can tell everyone else that we have all the answers.
Of course, we take the likes we get on Facebook and we evaluate our self worth based on how many we get, buts that’s another post.
I can’t walk into a room without hearing about NFL players protesting during the national anthem, what jobs Trudeau killed this time, how awful Trump is, how long it’s going to be before we end up in a post apocalyptic world blown up by nuclear war and of course the biggest one, climate change.
It’s no wonder that more people than ever before suffer from an anxiety disorder and/or depression. One article I read today said that more than 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety and depression, and that’s not counting those who hide it.
Mankind has a lot to worry about. Doesn’t help that so many people out there will do whatever it takes to get their fifteen minutes. In the last month the world was supposed to end…again. The news keeps saying that global warming is going to kill us all and if that’s not enough, you can’t even go to a country music concert anymore without worrying about some nutjob with a gun!
During these unsettled times religion takes a hit and usually sees numbers grow at the same time. It takes a hit because many believe that religion is to blame for the world’s problem and it does well because many others turn to a “higher power” when things aren’t going well.
Take Christianity for example, another numerologist predicted the end of the world last month. Seeing as how we are now in October and the end was supposed to be on the 23rd of September, I’d say it’s safe to say he was wrong. I’m not bragging but I said he was wrong back in August because 1, the Bible is clear about who knows when that day will come and 2, everytime someone puts a date on it like that they’re usually just looking for some attention.
That guy made Christianity look like a doomsday cult just sitting and waiting for all the sinners to finally get what they deserve, he made it look like we’re excited about the end of the world. And at the same time, many Google Christianity in search of answers and in the off chance that he’s right, they wanna be prepared. And when people start looking for answers that’s when we can, as God’s children and Christ’s followers be there for them with some of those answers.
Anyway I kinda went off topic there, worry, there’s a lot of it, stress, anxiety, depression and all around sadness brought on by the news, weather and the impending doom some say is coming is really hard to deal with. What are we supposed to do with all of that? How do we not become depressed when everywhere you turn it’s all doom and gloom?
God has a lot to say about anxiety, 365 times His word instructs us “do not fear”. Here are just a few;
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
It’s easy to say to someone “don’t worry” if you aren’t someone who worries. Anxiety is a real thing and it can cause a slew of problems when it comes to your health. It can make your body do things that you have no control over – aches and pains, tremors and shakes, balance and dizziness problems, it can even make you break out in hives, cause temporary paralysis and even blindness! That’s why I think we should all use a little more compassion for anxiety sufferers out there, their worry may not be something they can control, or just snap out of.
God, on the other hand can give the advice of not worrying because when He came to earth in the form of a man – Jesus Christ – He suffered the same way all humans do. He had emotions, he experienced sadness, anxiety, temptation and ultimately rejection when He gave His life on the cross. He may have even had a full blown anxiety attack the night before His crucifixion when He prayed in the garden.
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus’ soul was crushed, to the point of death. Luke described it like this; He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Sweating blood is a real thing, it’s called “hematohidrosis”. WebMD says this; “…condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress.” It means that Jesus was under so much stress that he literally sweat blood, and instead of freaking out, He went to the Father and prayed.
I’ll say it again, it’s easy for me to say to an anxious person not to be anxious but I haven’t dealt with it, Jesus on the other hand has and I always say when in doubt do what Jesus did, in this case it’s prayer and ultimately surrendering to God and His will.
Our God knows about anxiety, He went through it, He felt it. He wants you to know that He is there for you, He loves you and will never leave you. He knows it’s isn’t easy and He will walk you through it.
God also knows what He’s doing, in the last few months my dear wife has been struggling with anxiety and I won’t get into those details here because I haven’t asked her if I can but I saw and continue to see God moving in this difficult time. From friends we didn’t know we had showing up at the exact right time to talk and show support, to family being there day and night showing unconditional love. I saw others being educated about mental illness through her trial, we heard radio programs on the way to a doctor’s appointment talking about anxiety and God’s role in that, not just once. Our church family surrounded us with prayer, love, shoulders to cry on, meals and babysitting duties. Our closest friends stayed by our side and didn’t leave, they prayed and prayed and prayed and let us know that they love us! God, is waay more than just a guy in the sky playing chess, He has a way of revealing Himself to His children andy wife and I agree, even though we’re still in the midst of a hard time, that we are better for it, and that’s because God has been carrying us through, like that picture that hangs in many houses showing the footprints in the sand. God doesn’t leave us, He carries us.
Thanks so much for reading and if you know someone who struggling with anxiety and depression let them know you care and pray for them, nobody should have to suffer alone.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
I like TV. I watch quite a bit of it, some of my favorites include Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D, Blacklist, Big Brother, America’s Got Talent, Survivor, oh and This Is Us, who doesn’t like This Is Us?
This summer however I discovered Last Man Standing, and no this blog post is not about the politics expressed in the show that many believe got it canceled off the uber liberal network ABC, though it’s quite obvious since Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) is a die hard Republican loyal to Reagan, disses Obama, and speaks out against everything the Democrats stand for. And ABC wouldn’t cancel a show that blatantly expresses views different from their own, that would be…shall we say, intolerant. Nooo they wouldn’t do thaaaat!
But there is one more thing found in Tim Allen’s show that isn’t found anywhere else – God, faith, family, strong male leadership, traditional family values, a male lead that that isn’t a complete idiot who sleeps with anyone and everyone like, oh, I don’t know every other sitcom on TV!!
Kidding aside, I love (AGT) America’s Got Talent. This summer a gospel choir made it very far and they received very good feedback from the judges and America! One of the things about AGT that I love is the stories of the contestants, the producers do a great job of giving viewers a peek into their lives. This way you’re not only watching contestants on a TV show, you also feel like you know them a little, you can relate. Well they also did a story on the gospel choir wherein the choir members shared some of their struggles and hardships and it was very good, heart wrenching even, but you know what was missing every time they (the producers) delved deeper into their story? The Gospel! God! How can an interview with members of a gospel choir not mention, even once the one thing that brought them all together? Now I’m not saying it’s the choir who omitted God from their story, though it’s possible, but far more likely is the notion that NBC and AGT didn’t want God in there because it’s too risky for them to be seen as friendly to religion by their non religious viewers. Don’t say God, it’s too controversial. Unless of course it’s Mel B screaming it from the judges panel that is, then it’s okay.
Big Brother and Survivor are not much different either, I mean I love those shows. Though this season of Big Brother has to be the worst one I’ve ever seen, Paul as a puppet master? Not likely, not to dis Paul too much, I’m sure he’s a decent player, thing is, this year their were no other players! Those who tried to play were villianized and evicted, punished for playing against Paul by his minions who seem all too willing to just give him half a million bucks! I’d like to see how much of a puppet master Paul would be if he were playing with the likes of Dr Will, Derrick or Dan, or even the year evil Dick played. Those people wouldn’t have let themselves be manipulated by Paul, unlike these fools playing this year, I’ve got some very un-christian-like words I’d like to use to describe their gameplay, but hey this is a Christian blog after all and I’m way off topic… So anyway, Big Brother did have a Christian player on this year, like they’ve done before. But also like they’ve done before they present that player in a way that isn’t too friendly, they made her look wierd, with the music and sound effects they used when she was in the HOH bathroom praying she looked more like a crazy person off her meds than a sane person just talking to God. And I know she was speaking in tongues, for many that’s already wierd, even for most Christians I know that’s wierd. All I have to say is read Corinthians a little closer if you wanna know more about that. But even when she called Paul out to be the snake that he is, Big Brother would use the sound of a snake as a funny sound effect effectively mocking her obvious reference to the serpent in the Bible. Again, CBS can’t be seen as portraying Christians in a positive light, that would be too risky for them.
All this ranting aside, what other options do we Christians have when watching TV if we want to relate to the characters on our favorite TV shows besides the cheesy stuff we find on the faith channel? None really. So the best thing we can do is use our favorite shows as examples of what not to do, except This Is Us, there’s some great stuff in there.
The other thing we can do is not get all bent out of shape about it either, I know we like to say that it’s all these shows these days that don’t show or teach any morals or values, but if we’re honest, we’d have to go waaay back to find a time when they did. I’m in my mid thirties and I remember growing up and watching shows my parents hated – Seinfeld and Friends to name a couple. Disclaimer: I’m not knocking Friends, I know some of you are hardcore Friends fans and I’m not trying to offend you, just wanted to say that. But, if we’re honest, those shows had a whole lot of sleeping around, they weren’t exactly do-gooders who caught themselves in bad situations, they wanted to be in those situations.
TV and movies have for a long time shown us what they knew we would pay for – people living lives that we secretly dream about. Is it really the fault of the entertainment industry, or is it our fault for continuing to watch?
What we can do is use TV exactly for what it is – entertainment. We can also learn from it, use it as a teaching tool for our kids and if you give it a chance there are now actually some really good, and well made Christian based movies and TV that don’t look like they were shot with an iPhone 3GS. We recently watched The Case for Christ and I have to say it was really good! No sugar coating our faith, just an honest look at the Bible through the eyes of an atheist who later surrendered to Jesus. The God’s NOT Dead movies are also good, though I can see where some potential criticisms would be. War Room was really good, almost anything recently made by the Kendrick brothers is good. And believe it or not, I might get some flack for saying this but The Shack also was well done.
Point is, TV was never intended to be all hugs and kisses, despite what Full House may have shown us, it’s entertainment. And entertainment is going to change based on what people want to see. So use TV as entertainment but if you want to be edified and have your bucket filled, read the Bible. If you want your kids to grow up knowing Jesus don’t expect the TV or anyone else to do that for them, you do it, by reading them the Bible, walking with them, talking with them, listening to them, leading them to Jesus yourself because everyone knows, if we expect our kids not to turn into the things they see on TV, you have to show them something else, you have to BE something else.