Look inside the average house of anyone earning more than $100 a month. Amongst the various things you will find there will almost invariably be a television set. In the lounge room, the chairs will all be arranged so that everyone can see the television. Day after day, the occupants of this house will have the television running. Everyone, from the little children to grandpa and grandma will spend an average of 3-5 hours per day with their eyes glued to this marvelous invention. Young people, as well as Mum and Dad, will most likely have their own television set in their bedroom also, so as to be able to watch what they want, when they want, and avoid conflicts with others in the house about what to watch. You can watch as many women taking their clothes off as you want, in total privacy. Everyone, young and old, just sits there, soaking it up.
THE TWENTY-THIRD CHANNEL - something for Christians to consider.
The television industry today has tremendous influence over what people today think and believe. Like the church steeples of former times, today, television antennas rise from virtually every apartment block and home, reaching as it were, to heaven. They bring to your home the values and the messages that television's masters want you to hear. They don't tell you what they don't want you to know about. Of course you trust them. If something is presented as truth on TV, it must be true, right? And if it is not on TV, itís obviously not worth knowing or talking about, right?
Are You Worshipping at the Shrine of Television?
If I was to tell you that in order to follow Jesus you should spend at least two hours a day praying I would be told off by pastors everywhere (perhaps rightly so) and would be regarded by many as a religious fanatic. But two hours a day is not enough for most people today to give to the television set. They would gladly devote more time to the television, if it was possible, and often it is. Men come home tired from work, and the first thing they do is grab something out of the fridge and plunk themselves right in front of the tube, often totally ignoring their wives and children. Wives and mothers, often feeling neglected by husbands who compare them with the beautiful women on the tube, spend hours every day escaping into a fantasy world of television soap opera romances. Young children, feeling rejected by their parents who have no time for them, spend hour after hour watching the cartoons and TV shows. Many times these cartoons are full of occultic images and depict a lost world without God, a pagan world of witchcraft and magic. MTV is full of lustful images, mockery of God and the Bible, and music designed to impregnate the soul with a spirit more in harmony with the spirit of antichrist than with the Spirit of God. Yet preachers all too often remain silent. Perhaps it is because they and their children are watching the same garbage and they are unable to offer them anything better.
Incidentally, I am not saying you must pray two hours a day to follow Jesus, nor am I saying that the television is intrinsically evil. We follow Jesus because we want to, we pray because we want to, not because someone tells us we have to. If you are a new Christian, please be free - don't be ensnared either by legalistic rules or by carnality. God gives us time to grow. Some television programs may have value, but usually they impart the spirit of those people who produced the show, which is usually not the same thing as the Spirit of God. This statement applies many times to television evangelists as well - not always, but certainly at times. The News often imparts a spirit of fear, while many times even documentaries about the beauties of nature are constantly full of the unproven and godless nonsense concerning the theory of evolution. Instead of giving glory to God for His Creation they subtly seek to deny His existence and put it all down to mindless chance and the laws of physics, which are assumed to exist eternally without the need for anyone to create them.
The television is useful when used to play worthwhile Christian videos - be they films or teachings. Beyond this, there may be many profitable things the television could be used for, but most of what I have seen will not draw you closer to God at all. It will make you focus on the things of this world and lose the vision of eternity, if you ever had it. It won't renew your mind; it will corrupt your mind and conform you to the world. When you sit glued to the television, you have no way of controlling what image will appear on the screen next. Millions of Christians have become desensitized to evil through the television, making us weak and insipid, gutless and without compassion.
Some things on television are not harmful in small quantities - like sport, but they are irrelevant distractions for anyone who has a high purpose in life. I've found something worth giving my life for - I'd rather develop a focus on that now.
You may feel that the television doesn't affect you. You are mature, and you can control it. If it doesn't affect you, why are you wasting your time with it? Why not do something creative yourself? Why not change the world for better instead of just observing all the real and imagined evil that the television will bring into your living room?
Television can be like a drug that gives a feeling of peace and security. When people are deprived of this drug, however, they generally go into withdrawal symptoms. Try going without TV for a week and see if you don't get irritable. They did an experiment about this in Australia and found that everyone had severe withdrawal symptoms after a few days. We all have a deep need for peace and security. However, this need can only really be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
One of the most honest advertisements I have seen for television was in Southern India. There is a brand of television that has on its advertisements the image of a horned devil claiming to exercise power over those who watch it. Big business also knows about the power of television. That is why they spend multiplied millions of dollars to use it to tell you to buy their products. They know it works, even if you think you are not being brainwashed by the TV. That is part of the power of it.
An idol is anything people value more than God Almighty. An idol is what we are willing to trust in, sacrifice for, and give time and attention to more than God. I remember watching with amazement how poor Romanian families on $100 a month would work to get a color television in their house. It was considered indispensable. People will make almost any kind of sacrifices to feed their desire for television programming.
If people gave the kind of time to God, which they currently give to receiving the things of the world through television, there would be a worldwide revival and incredible blessing. How wonderful it would be if we would give time to considering the things of God instead of the things of the world, and get hold of a real Christian faith. We could experience the things God promises believers in the Bible - love, peace, joy, purpose, prosperity, healing and so on - after we pass through the initial wilderness experiences that come to all who begin to follow the Lord. The greatest thing of all is the incredible fulfillment that is found in actually knowing God personally. Without this perspective of realizing how wonderful it is to actually know God, what I am saying might just seem to be the fanatical ravings of a killjoy. But that would be the view of someone who has never experienced God personally. The tragedy is that some of us who have known Him refuse to let His Spirit guide us in the matter of the use of the television set.
Satan has used the television to shape the cultural values of a generation. The television teaches men and women how to lie, commit adultery and live godless lives. It glamorizes all that is sinful - lust, greed and pride - making these things look desirable. Television and pop culture almost never talks about the cost of the sexual immorality it promotes. To see that, just look around to find out how many happy families you can find in your neighborhood.
The Twenty-Third Channel
The TV. set is
my spiritual life shall want.
It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for His name's sake
because it requireth all my time.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian
because it presenteth so many good shows I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of the things of the world.
It keepeth me from the study of God's Word.
It leadeth me in the paths of failing to attend the evening
worship services and doing nothing in the kingdom of God.
Yea, though I live to be a hundred,
I shall keep viewing my TV. as long as it will work,
for it is my closest companion.
Its sound and its pictures, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me
and keepeth me from doing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas, which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.
Surely, no good thing will come of my life,
because my TV. offereth me no good time to do the will of God.
Thus, though I dwell in the place of the redeemed
who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb,
I will let the souls around me slip into Hell forever.
For a Christian serious about following Jesus, I could only say this: don't be conformed to the images on the tube, neither to my expectations or those of the Christians you know. Seek to know Jesus and act like He would. Seek to be conformed to His image. Ask yourself, what would Jesus do?