Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From the Cradle to the Grave

There's a group out there that wants to control you. They want to control your mind. . . your habits and your daily decisions from the time you are born until the time you die. Do I sound a little too "conspiracy theory" for you? No, "they" aren't hovering in UFOs far above the earth beaming mind control rays into our heads. "They" are the world as spoke of in scriptures. How does it work? Let me give you one example.

Are you familiar with Viacom? Viacom is one of the most prolific corporations the US has ever seen. Viacom manages to touch nearly every US citizen in one way or another multiple times throughout one's life. How? Through their ownership of media such as Nickelodeon, CMT, BET, MTV, VH1, SpikeTV, TVLand, Paramount, Dreamworks, and Atom Entertainment, just to name a few. Much of what you see in theaters and on your home television screen is produced by a Viacom subsidiary. And if you like entertainment, you can literally be theirs from the cradle to the grave.

As a toddler, you can soak in all the "educational" programs on Nick Jr., Nickelodeon's daytime programming. But in the afternoon, when the older kids are home from school, the programming changes. In later years, Nickelodeon has opted for more of an MTV format in the afternoons, offering older kids musical interludes by today's nearly-non-threatening pop acts and breaks by live announcers much akin to MTV VJs. You, as a young child or young adult are being groomed for the next step up in the Viacom world, MTV, BET or CMT. And the messages from the film division are backed up and promoted heavily on Viacom network stations. And each network grooms you for the next until all you can do is watch TVLand and remember the good old days.

So what's the problem? We are being lulled to sleep our whole lives. Your patterns of thinking, behavior, and purchasing are being influenced from multiple directions with a single source behind many of the messages. In an entertainment culture, it is easy to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. But before we know it, we realize we have been sedated. Our minds have been numbed until we reach the end of our lives, which have been shaped by what is temporary and fleeting.

But is Viacom some huge monster in a vast conspiracy to turn you into a drooling clone that answers to their beck and call? Perhaps. They are certainly looking for you to willfully surrender your pocketbook. But ultimately they are merely pawns picked from the toolbox of the world. Romans 12:2 says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Conformity to this world is the opposite of what God wants. I also think of Matthew 16:26 where Jesus says "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" To gain a lifetime of fleeting entertainment to only find out that you've lost it all is tragic. But perhaps the most tragic example is in Jesus' parable of the four soils. In the parable, Christ uses the story of a seed sower to illustrate someone preaching the truth of the Gospel. . . God's word. And as the sower scatters his seed, some falls into thorny ground. Oh, the seed grows, but so do thorny vines. And the thorny vines eventually choke the life out of the tender plant from the seed. Christ explains the meaning this way: "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."

I pray that is not you, my friend. It is easy to fill our lives with "stuff," only to wake up at the end of our life's journey and wonder where it all went. Our lives are but vapors. . . here today and gone tomorrow. Paul says in Colossians 3 that if "you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." There we will find treasure that moth and rust cannot destroy. And the thief of time cannot take it away. There, we will find the treasure of Christ.

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