Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lessons from Reality TV by Jenn Fromke

OK, I admit it. I’m a reality TV junkie. Not proud. But since I’m familiar with so many of these shows, I decided to mine the soil and see if I could find a few gems hidden within.

The other day, I tried to wrap my brain around the concept that we are creatures of the King, placed in time temporarily. Yet what we do in time determines where we will spend eternity. So of course, my mind went immediately to the granddaddy of reality shows and one of my favorites: Survivor. The players are placed into a strange environment for a period of time under a specific set of rules. How they choose to behave and interact within the given set of rules determines if they will return to life as usual after the game or else win a prize that may change their life’s direction.

I think it’s very easy to forget that what you and I experience daily is temporary. We were actually created for eternity, and what we choose to acknowledge as truth during our “time in time,” determines where and how we experience eternity.

So how should we act during our “time in time?” I think a fine example can be found on the shows Project Runway and Top Chef. The competitors play for a prize, which will enable them to realize a dream: designing their own clothing line or opening their own restaurant. As they compete, they go all out. Those who don’t care, go home. Those with a passion pour their heart and soul into the work in order to win.

Sometimes competitors receive different materials or different ingredients to work with and it seems unfair. But they still do the best they can with what they’ve been given. I like this advice – you play the hand you’ve been dealt. We can’t live the life of the person who lives down the street. We live the life God gives us, and we “…press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

Moving along through the TV guide, we come upon a newer addition to the reality TV slate. Undercover Boss. I love this show because the premise is that a top executive goes undercover to work side-by-side with employees on the front lines, at the lowest levels. When people don’t know they are talking to the boss, they will act very candidly and speak their minds with little pretense. The scripture that leaps to mind is this: “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Jesus asks us to treat those around us as if they were Him. Time and time again on the show, the workers will show mercy to the boss when he messes up, or make personal sacrifices for the company, and every time, the boss is moved to reward them for excellence. Do we pursue excellence every day as if Christ the King were working beside us?

Finally, we must take a look at Food Network’s Challenge. Every show is a contest between four pastry chefs to make the most spectacular cake. What I love about this show is the creativity mixed with skill required to win. Every chef is given the same theme and they always come up with vastly different cakes, which ultimately reflect who they are.

Jesus gives us a challenge too: to allow Him to make us into His image. But every child of God comes out different. We are all masterpieces in the hands of a skilled craftsman and God is making us into something beautiful, worth more than gold, and longer-lasting than spun sugar. And one more thing: The cakes have to taste good.

So don’t forget, God makes us beautiful on the inside first and that bleeds to the outside when He builds us into a stunning structure, which brings honor to Him, our master pastry chef. Kind of like an Extreme Makeover. But don’t get me started.

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