There is likely something in your life that you spend hours with every day that solely exists just to make you feel bad about yourself.
To some people, it has become an addiction. They can't sleep without it. They can't sit down to dinner without it. Without it, they would have no idea what to do with their weekends.
The saddest part, is that children, in their formative years, when such delicate things such as self-worth, identity and feelings of adequacy are being formed, are being subjected to this. The average school aged child spends four hours a day with this vile force that feeds them the message over and over again...you aren't good enough...you aren't pretty enough...you aren't smart enough...you aren't lovable on your own.
We let this tell us what is sexy, what is fashionable, what a happy marriage looks like, how a teenager should act, what is fun and we even let it dictate to us what is right and wrong.
And for us Christians, we let this force into our hearts to form idols in our lives that we place higher than Jesus Christ.
I'm talking about television.
I'm not talking so much about movies and DVD's, though they contribute their share of the problem. What I'm mainly discussing is the advertising funded programming that streams through the airwaves (or cable) and into our homes.
Now, I'm going to say upfront that I'm not one of those nuts that thinks that all TV is evil and that anyone with a TV in their house is going to hell. But in our culture today, we spend so many hours indoctrinating ourselves with whatever random thing comes on our TV set that we give little thought to how it is affecting our views of ourselves and our relationship with Jesus.
Even if we are responsible by watching programming that doesn't seem to be promoting sex, violence or any other social blight on our society, we still allow the advertising to flow into our homes and subtly indoctrinate us when we may be paying attention the least.
Think about the subtle messages that are sent. Remember the advertising campaign, "Choosy Moms choose Jif". Seems innocuous enough. But what message does it really send...if you care about your kids enough to not just give them any old slop, then you need to buy Jif peanut butter. Or even worse...you can't be a good mom that cares about her kids without buying Jif.
The goal of most, if not all, advertising it to make you feel inadequate in some way so that you are spurred on to actually going to the store and buying whatever product. Since TV is driven by advertising dollars, the goal of TV is to make you feel inadequate.
Remember the campaign, "Calgon, take me away." The message there...your life sucks and you need our bubble bath to make it better. "A diamond is forever"...if you don't give your fiance a diamond ring, you are pretty much saying that you could care less if this relationship ends at some point. "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?"...you so desperately need a Klondike Bar in your life that you will go to whatever lengths necessary to get one.
Now, not all of them are that blatantly obvious, but they all have a component of making you feel inadequate. You don't have a fun life, so buy our product. You don't have enough guys paying attention to you, so use our makeup. You're hungry, whether you just ate or not, so eat our food. Your car doesn't have a fancy engine, so it's not as good as our car.
So what's wrong with this? It's just commerce in a free market economy, right?
First Timothy 6:6 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." One of the problems with advertising is that it robs us of our contentment with who we are and what we have. Without contentment, it is hard for us to truly gain the things we really desire in life.
Next, 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." Don't compare yourself with the standards of the world. There is one person we compare ourselves against and that is Jesus Christ. It isn't wise to use any other standard, especially when the other person's standard is motivated strictly by a desire to make money off of us. Jesus' motivation is love for us and the desire to spend eternity with us. Who would you trust more?
Lastly, John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Advertising steals our confidence, kills our contentment and destroys our feelings of adequacy. Sounds a lot like Satan, huh? I'm hesitant to make the jump to "advertising=Satan", but man, they are close. Advertising is full of lies, and Satan is the father of lies.
The question is, has anyone ever found true happiness and contentment in things? Has anyone ever said, you know, I've bought all this stuff, now I feel good enough, pretty enough, manly enough, etc.?
Then if those things are lies, then why do we allow ourselves to listen to lies for as many hours a day that we have the TV on? If it was a person in your living room telling you those things, would you let them stay?
I'm not calling Christians to turn off their TV's and never watch it again. I'm calling them to think about what kinds of messages they allow into their ears and their eyes and what it has done to their heart? What messages from TV are you accepting above Biblical truth? Do you trust God or culture to have your best interest at heart? Who are you giving the power in your life to?