The god of Media
Updated: Oct 10
"You are what you eat" is actually a deep biblical principle. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21) summarizes the simple but profound notion that what you focus on the most is what you become; the truth you digest will be the truth you believe (whether or not it is actually truth at all).
Though we would love to point the finger at young people for being "media obsessed" and "always glued to their phones", the fact is- everybody is! Over the past few decades we've seen the unprecedented rise of media presence- first, network television, then cable, then digital, then smartphones and social media, not to mention the unhealthy creation of 24-hour news channels such as CNN, MSN, or Fox News, which, like all channels, rely on ratings and viewership more than truth, honesty, or factual integrity.
But in an age of information, with millions of bytes of knowledge literally at our fingertips, I have discovered that more and more people seem less connected to reality, less knowledgeable about life and the world around them, less inclined to study, research, and indulge in critical thinking, and certainly less aware of the Bible, the Gospel of Christ, and the realities of God's Word and His presence in our everyday lives.
I have especially witnessed in 2020 how many people seem completely willing to believe (as is and at face value) a social media post, a newspaper headline, something that CNN reports, or a one-liner spoken by a politician. Hey, we've even transformed our entire lives and family routines and business agendas in response to these posts and headlines (again, as is and at face value, no questions asked, no critical thinking applied).
I wonder if those same people would show that kind of unwavering faith toward God? Would the people who so quickly believe every news flash and every media headline apply the same swiftness of trust to the Bible, and believe as is and at face value, no questions asked, the truth and principles of the kingdom? Would they transform their lives, their routines, their business plans, their procedures simply because that's what God wants them to do? Would they care about evangelizing and spreading the Gospel so that others would not perish but have eternal life in the same way they care about whether you're wearing a mask or not?
But where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. We know the commandment from Exodus 20 which states "You shall not make for yourself a carved image- any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them."
The reality is, we have a new "god" in our modern culture. The god of Media.
And to this god many people in our present society bow down and offer sacrifices to. They pledge their faith and pay alms and submit with all loyalty. Even Christians have to check our motivations, and 2020 has certainly been a revealing year for the body of Christ, as I believe we have seen the condition that much of the American church is in- a timid and precarious condition where fear and social conformity seem to preside over faith and fortitude.
The god of Media has become so strong that we hardly even question it, let alone contradict it. A people who are so quick to question and challenge the Bible, to openly reject the reality of Jesus Christ, to support overtly ungodly laws and social norms are at the same time perfectly willing to leave a media headline alone- unchallenged, undebated. If the media says it, it must be true. If the media proclaims it, it must be socially and morally right.
The modern social logic is as follows:
I won't transform my life because of the awesome and transformational love Jesus showed when He died for me on the cross, but I will certainly transform my business, my schedule, my norms, and my personal values to suit the media and what it wants me to do. I won't go on the mission field for the sake of the Gospel, or say yes to God's calling in my life (or even go to church) if it means inconveniencing myself, but I will inconvenience anyone and everyone if the media tells me to. If that's what the headlines are instructing me to do, I will do it without question. If that's what God is instructing me to do, I will question it, debate it, challenge it, and do everything I can to make sure I prove Him wrong.
I am in no way condemning sensible action or advocating anti-establishment sentiments. The Bible clearly tells us in Romans 13 to submit to government, as Daniel did during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. However, Daniel made it very clear that His faith was in God, and when he had to choose between social conformity and faith in God, He chose God. When Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego were forced to bow to the king's image of gold, they refused, and were willing to be thrown in the fire for their faith.
But where is this image of gold? It is the god we call Media. But when are we ever forced to bow down to it? Every time there is a new headline. Every time there is a new social media post. Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite and the town criers who simply reported the news. Today this god tells us what to think about the news, whether the news is right or wrong, what your business and your family needs to do about the news.
My prayer is that the body of Christ will begin to take its rightful place in society. We are called to be the gallant, the courageous, the strong. We are the ones serving the only true God. We are the ones with the answer. What's more, we are called to be different. We are called to be nonconformists, radical and passionate followers of Christ. It is time to take our faith away from the god of Media and put our hope and trust in Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)