Reality TV should make us better believers, huh?
This probably seems like an awkward statement, but it is true. Even though I probably watch a total of 3-4 hours of TV a week except during Football season, March Madness, and the NBA Finals. I haven’t watched a reality TV show in years and yet they are helping me become a more faithful Christian. How does this work? It is largely due to pride issues that I’ve had since I was a kid.
I used to imagine that I was famous. I would do all of these interviews with myself. I’d choose a different voice and I would ask myself questions. Then I would imagine that people were watching me and were super interested in what I had to say (don’t act like you didn’t do that too). I would do these interviews all the time with myself, and at times I would really wonder if I was being filmed on some sort of hidden camera show. Almost like the Truman show. I used to live for that kind of thing.
Then in 1990 MTV had their first reality TV show called “The Real World.” The first one was in NYC and I rarely missed an episode. Even though I would self-righteously judge the people who are on the show I still dreamed of having people observe my life, mostly as a rapper. By God’s grace that desire would, for the most part, die. But, it can still show up now and again. In fact, it did recently.
A few days ago I got into a “tiff” with my wife and was angry at my 5 year old son for a repeated pattern of sin in his life that forces me to fight my own sin, or join in the fun of sinning. While I am grateful that there are times I do not give into sin, the other day was not one of those times. I failed. Miserably. I was impatient at the very least. Shortly after that, I was sitting in my living room and I had this thought, “If my life were on a reality show would people think I was a good husband and father? Or better, would they think I am a Christian?” I replayed the conflict with my wife and my anger toward my son and thought, “nope.”
Don’t get me wrong, I understand grace. And I don’t really struggle with fear of man that often, so my thoughts weren’t about caring about what others think. My thoughts were more on my witness in moments of temptation, and what did I just look and sound like to my family? If the reality show edited the way they like to edit, I wondered if my faith would be faithful enough for others to be convinced that I, at least, believe what I teach. I spent time replaying my tone of voice imagining that it would be replayed over and over again for the whole world to watch and judge me.
I remembered one particular contestant who’s life changed dramatically after watching herself on TV. The way she carried herself on the show made her one of the hated people in all of TV land. That is exactly what I do not want to be, especially since the audience is my family. But interestingly enough what changed this woman’s attitude was seeing footage of herself on TV and realizing that she hated her attitudes. That’s kind of how I felt the other night. I don’t want to be that dad or husband that makes it awkward or tense when he is home with his family. I don’t want to be THAT dude on the reality show that everybody wishes got kicked off. Then it hit me. Jesus is always watching.
He is the audience and he is the one who will judge what I do. I was humbled by that thought but also encouraged. Jesus is much more gracious than millions of self-righteous viewers on a reality show. Having said that, he is also a Holy God who demands that his people be holy. Jesus does no editing either. All the footage is “as-is.” The way I want to be seen is due to the fact that HE watches, not some imaginary reality TV show. But had I not thought of the reality TV scene I may have missed reminding myself of the reality of Christ’s omniscience. It is always humbling when you think,” if someone had heard me say that what would they think?” But what is more humbling is that God sees and knows what you think before you do.