Pastoral Ministry
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Get Real

Romans 3:23 


It appears that reality TV is taking over the airwaves. In an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Goodman writes, "The numbers were astounding -- more than 18 million people watching 'Joe Millionaire,' more than 17 million watching 'The Bachelorette' and 'Star Search.' More than 10 million for 'Celebrity Mole.' Even on the smaller networks, millions more turned up for 'High School Reunion' and 'The Surreal Life.'"


Personally, I don't know how they can call Joe Millionaire "Reality TV." The whole premise is totally whacked. The producers have Eliza Doolittled a blue-collar guy who is now poising as a millionaire trying to find the woman of his dreams. He hopes she will fall madly in love with him and not notice that their entire relationship is based on deception. Come on, get real, how can he possibly think that a woman who signed up to marry a millionaire won't care about money. Reality? No way, this should be called un-reality TV.

But that's the problem with a trying to be real. Did you catch what I just said, TRYING to be real. In a sense, whenever we try to be real, we're not. Instead, we're projecting a reality. It makes us feel self-conscious-like we're on a first date with someone-you know that sudden realization of how loud we chew our food and the panic we feel when we begin to wonder if our date is noticing.

Being real can only happen when we drop the deceptions, pretense, and self-consciousness we protect ourselves with. Being real begins with knowing and admitting who I really am.

I am a sinner. And so are you. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (NASB) This was a lesson David learned one day when Nathan the prophet came to visit him. 2 Samuel 12:1-7 says, "Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said, 'There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. [2] The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. [3] But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him. [4] Now a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.'

[5] Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. [6] And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.' 

[7] Nathan then said to David, 'You are the man!'"

David had sinned grievously against God by committing adultery and covering up his sin by murdering his mistress' husband. David was too busy being king to notice that he was a sinner. But the truth was, beneath the robes and the crown was a man whose heart was growing dark-a man who needed to get real with himself, with God and with others.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to intensify the good things about ourselves and downplay our shortcomings-you know, like we do when we write a resume? In effect, we're projecting a "resume personality." I like the New Living Translation of Romans 12:16, it says, "Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!"

Sometimes our problem isn't self-deception like it was with David, instead it is just pure and simple deception. For some people, keeping up appearances is a high priority. I used to say that it doesn't matter to me what people think about me. I still believe that to a degree, but in moments when I totally honest, I have to admit that I do care. I especially care what the people closest to me think. I don't know if I'm any different from you in that respect. Really, I don't think there is anything wrong with that, unless I start changing my core values to please someone else, or if I start acting like I'm someone that I'm not just to please other people.

Ananias & Sapphira made that deadly mistake. Acts 5:1-11 says, "But a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, [2] and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. [3] But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.' [5] And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it. [6] And the young men arose and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. 

[7] Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] And Peter responded to her, 'Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?' And she said, 'Yes, that was the price.' [9] Then Peter said to her, 'Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out as well.' [10] And she fell immediately at his feet, and breathed her last; and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things." ( NASB)

What was such a big deal about this couple's sin that it cost them their life? Isn't pretending to be better than you really are a harmless sin, you know, like lying about your weight on your driver's license? Not according to the scripture, Peter declared, "You have not lied to men, but to God."

Ultimately, we live our lives before an audience of one-it is what He thinks that counts the most. Ananias and Sapphira were so busy trying to impress their fellow church members that they trampled on what was holy-the genuine, sincere gift of a grateful heart to a loving God.

Death was a serious consequence for this couple to pay for their deception. It may even seem unreasonable because hypocrisy is so commonplace in the twenty-first century. It was the exception, not the rule in the early church.

As an aside, have you ever thought about the stark contrast of these two biblical stories to one another? David committed adultery, lied, and murdered, yet God forgave him and allowed him to live. All Ananias and Sapphira did was give less money to the church than they said they did, and look what happened to them. What was the difference? Was God being unfair? Think about it and talk to your friends and family about it for the next few hours and come prepared to explore the issue further in our evening service.

So far we've learned that being real requires that we not live in self-denial or try to deceive others, but before we dismiss this morning, there is one more question I have: How real do we really want to be? I've noticed that some people use "being real" as an excuse for carnal behavior. "Hey, that's just who I am," they say, "I'm just being real."

Being real, doesn't mean being crude, rude, barbaric or sinful. A few of you are old enough to remember Chuck Barris of the Gong Show fame. Believe it or not, he doesn't like reality TV because he calls it "too mean-spirited." 

"They can say anything they want to say about what I did in the early days, but we rooted for a winner," Barris said. "We hoped the couple (in 'The Dating Game') were happy. 'The Newlywed Game' couple were so thrilled they got their refrigerator. 'The Gong Show' winner got their little check for 140 bucks and 6 cents or whatever. Now people are pleased when certain people are eliminated. It's not so much who won but who lost. We relish their disappointment."

The mean-spirited nature isn't his only complaint. "I used to joke and say they'll execute somebody on television eventually because it will be a very inexpensive show and it will attract an enormous audience," Barris said. "I was joking, but now I'm starting to wonder."


I don't know if reality TV is heading in that direction or not, but I do know that the goal of being real isn't to follow our depravity to its logical conclusions; it is to recognize our sinfulness and turn from it. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (NASB)

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