Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Christian Celebrate the Train Wreck of Other People's Lives...

Last week I witnessed a conversation regarding people watching a certain reality TV show featuring a young exploited child and her tragically dysfunctional family.  I do not want to dignify this show by mentioning its name though I am sure many of you know what I am talking about.  Many reality shows basically televise the train wreck lives of others all for our entertainment.  People laugh and make jokes all in an effort to feel better about themselves.  There are several glaring problems with that mindset.  The first is that we fail to realize that these people are people created in the image and likeness of God and that we are to never ever look at someone else to make us feel better (or worse) about our own lives.  One verse brings this to crystal clarity.
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 NKJV
Some of you may be thinking what this verse has to do with anything I have said.  On its own, this passage can be interpreted in many ways, but taking it in its context as the lead of the Beatitudes, its meaning becomes clear.  The Beatitudes describe the man of God and offer a sort of progression.  This is the first of that progression.  It is not talking about any poor sad fellow as having the kingdom of heaven, but one very specific kind of person.  This is a person who has had an encounter with God and realizes their poverty of spirit.  This is Isaiah when confronted with God and feared for his life. This is Paul, one moment puffed up in pride looking to persecute a church he saw as an evil, to a man blinded and humbled and seeking direction from the Lord he was just blaspheming.  It is the man who has had an encounter with the true and living God and realized just exactly who he is when compared to who He is. 

This poverty of spirit is a reality that never really leaves the life of a believer.  Not that we are to go around moping about just how low we are, but that we are to rejoice in that God loves us regardless of our lowly state.  Jesus said "blessed" or "happy" are the poor in spirit because it is in that moment when we realize we are not good enough that we find Jesus who died so that we do not have to be good enough.  The beginning of salvation is the realization that we need a savior and may God forbid that we forget the reality that we will never stop needing a savior. 

That said, I hope we can understand why it is such a terrible thing to look at the dysfunctional lives of others in an effort to make you feel better about yourself.  It gives you some false sense of you actually being any better than you really are.  How prideful is it to sit back on your couch and watch the crumbling or downtrodden lives of others and laugh at their misfortunes and dysfunctions?   Have you ever even really considered just what it is you are doing?  Have you ever really considered just how arrogant you are?  These are probably the same kind of people who would call me judgmental while judgement has become their chosen form of recreation.  We are to measure our lives by God.  We are not to try and make ourselves feel better by watching others, but get a true picture of ourselves by looking upon our Lord. 

Speaking of sitting in prideful judgement, being entertained by the dysfunctional lives of others, let me get to my second point. 
So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27 NKJV
We have this idea that if we see it on television that it is not real and I will admit that many things are played up and edited to make them entertaining for us.  This does not negate the fact that we find dysfunctional lives and the exploitation of children to be entertaining.  It is a sickness we have that we really must break.  Those people are not actors playing a role but real people really created in the image and likeness of God and who Jesus really died for.  It is not for us to make fun of their lives, but to pray for their lives.  When we see these things, it should grieve us and not make us laugh.   Do you think that Jesus laughs when young girls get pregnant out of wedlock?  Do you think that Jesus rejoices in child exploitation (although He did say something about millstones and necks for those who do).  These people we watch need Jesus.  Oh that we would have the heart of Jesus and look upon misfortune as an opportunity for ministry and prayer and not something for our entertainment.  Remember that next time you are laughing at their lives, those lives are lived by real people with real souls really created in the image of God.  

It grieves me to hear people being mocked and humiliated.  Yes, adults in reality shows choose to have their lives put on display.  Children, on the other hand, are put into these roles without any real understanding as to their implications.  They are not given a choice and, even if they were, they are not developed enough to make an intelligent decision.   Even with adults, though, should we find the glorification of the dysfunction of their lives something to laugh at and celebrate?  I know this post is similar to one I wrote not very long ago, but I wanted the phenomena of reality television to have its own post as it is a special case.  Next time you choose to watch, please take a moment and consider what you are doing.  Consider your pride in thinking that you are so much better than they are that you can just sit back and laugh at them as though they were created for your entertainment.  Consider the hurt they are causing their children.  Consider the mistakes they made.  Consider that by doing that, you are worse than they are.  We are to humble ourselves before God and not puff ourselves up in comparison to other men.  If we don't God can very well do it for us.  If you would not want your life to be the laughingstock of the world, do not impose it upon others.  I think Jesus said something about these things as well. 
For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11 NKJV

And [the] second [is] like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:39 NKJV

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