Evening television viewing was a family affair when I was growing up. Daddy controlled the program selection, and children served in multiple roles. First, we were the remotes should the channel need to be changed. There was no dawdling allowed, and we were as quick as pushing a button on a hand-held device, often racing to see who would get to turn the knob. Secondly, if reception was poor, a child was selected to be stationed outside at the antennae trying desperately to hear him yelling from the nearest window the instructions on which direction to turn the pole. (This was a skill I never mastered fully, often managing to aggravate my father even more by either turning it the wrong direction or too far in the right direction. I was always hopeful I would not be selected for this role.) And thirdly, we would stand to the side of the large television cabinet in order to give it a good “whack” at his command if it still wouldn’t work properly.
Once all selections and corrections had been made, it was time to watch. Most evenings it was a movie rather than a drama or sitcom. I don’t remember ever watching a movie with my father that wasn’t a western. We watched funny westerns, classic westerns, cheesy westerns. It didn’t matter. I don’t even remember it ever occurring to me that there were other options until I reached my teenage years. It still didn’t matter to me though, as I enjoyed both the westerns and his company. I learned to enjoy this time silently, however, as we were not allowed to talk or play during the movie, only during the commercial breaks. Daddy wanted to fully enjoy the movie experience without missing any portion of the dialogue or action. And after a full day of work, it was a good way to relax. (Some people don’t find a room full of active, noisy children relaxing…I am my father’s child…)
Western movies were easy to follow. There was a good guy in a white hat, and one or more bad guys in black hats. The good guys were always after the bad guys, whose pictures were plastered all over the country on signs that said “Wanted: Dead or Alive”. Very dramatic. The good guys always tried to bring them in alive, but on occasion had to resort to killing them. The death of the bad guy in those movies was very different compared to what we see in the movies today. Then, the death was all about how he acted as he died, not massive amounts of blood and gore. And once the bad guy was imprisoned or dead, everyone was safe.
In today’s movies, it’s often hard to tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. The anti-hero is often the star of the movie. An anti-hero is defined as one who lacks the traditional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, nobility, fortitude, and moral goodness. Hmmm….I like the old movies better.
As we consider our spiritual lives, what’s the status – dead or alive? Are our prayers full of hope and confident expectation, or are they stale and repetitive? When we read the Bible, does it energize us and make us effective, or is it just a part of our routine that has no real impact on our everyday lives?
“For the word that God speaks is alive and full of power – making it active, operative, energizing, and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and the (immortal) spirit, and of joints and marrow (of the deepest parts of our nature), exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
We’ve all had times where we’ve struggled to stay engaged in this life as a Christian. For many years, I read the Bible as a book of all the rules, with stories about other’s lives as examples of how to be a “good guy” or a “bad guy”. Sometimes when I read, it was interesting and informative and encouraging. But other times when I read, it was also frustrating and defeating and condemning. Those days often lessened my desire to read and study more.
Can the world tell if we are one of the good guys or the bad guys? Are we trying to live out our Christian lives as the anti-heroes – holding on to our old ways and attitudes, unwilling to allow Him to change us, and still thinking that we can win others for Him?
His word is alive. It is powerful. It has the power to change us! He has made us alive in Christ! (John 14) If we aren’t finding this walk with Him full and exciting, maybe we need to adjust the antennae and tune in better! The good guy has already won!! He’s already defeated the bad guy – the devil – and put sin to death! We are both saved and safe. Sin has no power over us any longer when we begin to take His word as a living thing – putting our faith in God who is more than able to do in us all that He said He would do!!!
“…to Him Who, by the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams…” Ephesians 3:20
In this real life movie, the Good Guy has already saved the day. When we yield to Him, He is able to work His power in us and for us, making this earth experience all that it was designed to be. And the end of this life is not the end of the movie. It’s the beginning of more than we can ever imagine!!