Have you heard any of the “Only in America” observations? Here are a few of my favorites:
Only in America…can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance…
Only in America…do people order double cheeseburgers, a large fry, and a diet coke…
Only in America…do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters…
Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and leave useless things and junk in boxes in the garage…
Only in America…do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight…
(Source: Anvari.org, Jokes from Emails, “Only in America”)
And only in America would we have a show called Teen Mom (or Teen Mom 2 or 3)—right?
It’s not that I’m condemning the girls who’ve ended up in this complicated place in their teen years. It’s more that I’m mystified at a culture that glorifies this less than ideal parenting scenario, and deceives many teens into thinking that celebrity status is the end all to existence.
And yet, week after week million of viewers insist on satiating their curiosity for dysfunctional drama by tuning in.
My question is this…perhaps rather than spending precious time following the scripted “reality” show about teen moms we should invest our limited days in helping everyone around us find the love and forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ?
Look—if you want “reality,” the reality is that we are all hurting and lonely people who make mistakes every single day—and the consequences of our sins won’t get glamorized or a $60,000 per episode paycheck. In fact, the Bible actually tells us what is coming our way when we orient our lives around following our evil desires:
Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death…(Romans 6:23, The Message).
The knowledge that we all carry around the same guilt and shame and eventual death sentence from our hell bent focus on breaking God’s commands can point you in two directions. Many of us tune into shows about people who are “worse” than us so we can feel better about ourselves and perhaps even feel morally superior. But the other option is to “tune in” to people we rub shoulders with so we can extend the love and forgiveness we have received from Jesus Christ.
And what does that look like?
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. He awoke early in the morning to return to the temple. When He arrived, the people surrounded Him, so He sat down and began to teach them. While He was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees brought in a woman who was caught in the act of adultery; and they stood her before Jesus.
Pharisees: Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses says in the law that we are to kill such women by stoning. What do You say about it?
Jesus: Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.
Once again Jesus bent down to the ground and resumed writing with His finger. The Pharisees who heard Him stood still for a few moments and then began to leave slowly, one by one, beginning with the older men. Eventually only Jesus and the woman remained, and Jesus looked up.
Jesus: Dear woman, where is everyone? Are we alone? Did no one step forward to condemn you?
Woman Caught in Adultery: Lord, no one has condemned me.
Jesus: Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you (John 8:1-5; 9-11, The Voice).
If MTV was around in Jesus’ day, this woman would have starred in some reality show about immoral women. But Jesus reminds us that every human being has infinite worth and value in God’s sight, and (as the saying goes) “When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.” Rather than picking up stones, they should have been throwing down confessions.
So the next time you watch or hear something about Teen Mom, think about your own choices that have brought drama and dysfunction into your life. Hear the words of forgiveness from Jesus, and “avoid the sins that plague you.”
And don’t forget the hurting ones around you who aren’t stars of their own show—rather they are prisoners of their own choices. Share the gospel with them as a part of THE Cause so they can trade in their sorrows for the joy of the Lord!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Reality shows have taken over the airwaves, and oftentimes we get more emotionally involved in the stories of people we will never meet than the hurting ones all around us. This week, come alongside someone who is hurting or in trouble because of some bad decisions, and share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ with them.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, we have all sinned and broken Your commands. Help us share the forgiveness that we have been given with the lost and lonely people around us, and help us never forget that we have no right to throw stones at others.
Read: Matthew 7:1-3. “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged (NLT).
Get: InZane. Zane Black has always lived life on the edge, looking for all the crazy excitement and adventure life has to offer. He just ended up “going all in” for the wrong things. And it almost cost him his life. But after years of living for cheap thrills and temporary highs, Zane experienced a radical encounter with Jesus that changed his life forever. Told in his raw, honest, conversational style, InZane…Totally Stoked on this Jesus Dude captures Zane’s journey from a party boy to a committed Christian. His story will keep you turning the page, all the while challenging you to put Jesus at the center of their lives.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: Teen Mom is a show that seems to glamorize sinful choices, but it can also serve as a reminder that we all have fallen, and we all need to help people around us who are hurting.
Key Scripture: John 8:1-5; 8-11
- Do you think that shows like Teen Mom have any impact on teen pregnancy rates? Why or why not?
- What do you think Jesus was writing in the sand?
- How can we avoid the sins that plague us?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?