Two Channel TV

I was having lunch with a friend today, and he was telling me about how his television started only receiving two channels. That’s all he gets. Two channels. So we started talking about what channels you would choose if you could only get two channels. I don’t know about you, but for me, I think I would choose ESPN (I can’t survive without SportsCenter) and The Food Network. Why The Food Network? I love food. I’m fairly confident that I think about food more than the average person does. But anyways, those are the two off the top of my head that I would keep. Unfortunately for my friend, he didn’t have the luxury of choosing, because apparently his TV made the executive decision of keeping the Public Access Channel and the Military Channel. That’s it. So, needless to say, he’s been watching a lot of WWI and WWII shows. We started laughing about how in a couple of weeks he’s going to be a military genius. He’ll know every war strategy and weaponry forward and back. At the very least, he’ll be really good at the game, RISK. After we had laughed about it, he sighed and admitted that because of the TV situation he already knew way more about militaries and wars than he probably needed to know.

Naturally, we have the tendency to learn about and take in the things that are put right in front of our face. People truly have the ability to soak up stuff like a sponge and it can shape our thinking, feeling, and worldview. This can be positive or negative. I’m sure you’ve felt the elation walking out to your car after an inspirational movie. Honestly, for about 15 minutes, you feel like you can change the world. On the flip, you often hear people talking about the dangers of de-sensitization. I first heard that term used in regards to violent video games that were popular when I was a kid. And while I’m not a proponent of cultural naiveté and legalism, I acknowledge that the things we put in our heads can be damaging, and Scripture challenges us:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4.8;TNIV]

However, there is a deeper and more pressing point. There is a difference between indulging in debaucherous and decadent entertainment for kicks and honestly facing the truth of brokenness in the world for the sake of redemption. Following Jesus goes beyond fears of desensitization and safety and into the realm of redemption. In Christ, the call is to go to places of hurt, suffering, lostness, and struggle. We are not called to cloister away, hoarding faith and hope. And the truth is that as one goes to those places and builds those relationships, in faith, one grows stronger. Living faith out in the face of brokenness has the opposite effect of merely indulging in it through media. As I’ve had difficult conversations with people, listened as people have shared horribly sad stories and shared the raw truth of brokenness in their lives, as I’ve lived in and seen places that are riddled with evil, I have not become de-sensitized, hardened, and calloused. It has challenged me to be more loving, more compassionate, less judgmental, and more passionate about the Gospel. There are women and men who have been more places and ministered to more sadness than I have who would say the same thing. So, while often times you can be shaped by what is in front of your face, the power of the Gospel is that you grow ever more challenged to actually do the shaping of what is in front of you. Faith, and prayer, and community give one the ability to go into the world and be light.

The tendency is to immediately think that this can only begin by being dropped in by helicopter to an undisclosed, remote location in a country where Christianity is not allowed. It might but probably won’t look like this for you. It might begin by joining in on a missions opportunity, dedicating a Saturday at a food kitchen, or taking someone to lunch and asking them how you can pray for them and be a support for them. Then, who knows how God will continue to work through you.
The MESSAGE translation of Scripture says this:

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand- shine! Keep open house, be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. [Matt. 5.14-16]

Guiding real people to embrace a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ