Game of Thrones won for Outstanding Drama Series at last night’s Emmys, making it the most-awarded narrative series in the history of the Emmys. Fleabag won for Outstanding Comedy Series. Jodie Comer and Billy Porter received Outstanding Lead Actress and Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Here is what I noted: Except for a few minutes watching a late-night talk show here or there, I did not see a single show that was nominated. Not one.
Advice I wish I always followed
Part of the explanation could be that much of popular culture is aimed at people half my age. Another factor is that I have to go to bed early each night to finish this article early the next morning.
But I suspect the largest reason for the disconnect between the 2019 Emmys and my television-watching habits is that Janet and I choose to watch shows that do not dishonor the Lord and his word. I’m not suggesting that every nominated show fails this standard, but many do.
Scripture calls us to “be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). In that light, we should heed the warning of the eighteenth-century scientist G. C. Lichtenberg: “Never undertake anything for which you wouldn’t have the courage to ask the blessing of heaven.”
I wish I could tell you that I always follow his advice. But I do recognize the truth of his assertion.
“The euthanasia of Christianity”
The popularity of television shows that contradict the biblical worldview reveals that many people do not realize there is a biblical worldview.
God’s word speaks to every dimension of every moment of life, not just our Sunday worship or Monday prayers. Abraham Kuyper was right: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
When we make Jesus our Lord, we must stand against all that stands against him. Unfortunately, many see Christianity as little more than a means to our personal happiness. If we attended church services yesterday and read the Bible and pray today, all will be well with us, or so we think.
There is little price to pay for following such a faith. To the contrary, it exists for us, not us for it.
Sadly, Friedrich Nietzsche’s scornful description of popular Christianity is even truer now than when he penned it in 1881: “A God who, in his love, ordains everything so that it may be best for us . . . so that everything at length goes on smoothly and there is no reason left why we should take life ill or grumble about it: in short, resignation and modesty raised to the rank of divinities—that is the best and most lifelike remnant of Christianity now left to us.”
As a result, he claims, Christians live in “the belief that, in the entire universe, benevolence and honest sentiments will finally prevail.” Nietzsche calls this state of affairs “the euthanasia of Christianity.”
The peril of popularity
Biblical Christians know that the opposite is actually true. Scripture calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As a “thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10), the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Consequently, Christians “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12).
In a fallen world like ours, popularity can be perilous. Jesus warned us: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). If you must choose between temporary fame and eternal reward, choose the latter.
What crown do you seek today?
Martin Luther King Jr.: “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”
The man for whom Dr. King was named observed: “They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?” (Martin Luther).
By contrast, our Master promised: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Which crown do you seek today?