Friday, January 13, 2012

The Northern Kingdom

As I was growing up, I remember clearly the time we got a color television set. I was in awe. I had gone to my grandparents on many occasions and they had a color set. But I remember the faces were either too green (the way my grandfather liked it) or they were too red. My dad would always try to adjust it when he was there, as he has always been the resident fixer-upper for virtually anything; a gene I did not inherit. By the time we left their home, the set was looking very realistic, but my grandfather was none too happy, because Walter Cronkite was not quite "green" enough. No worries, by the time we came back for another visit, he would have made his particular adjustments on the various color controls and brought Walt back to his envious looking self.
When we got our color set, it had an "auto color" setting. Literally, a click of a button and it was perfect. I sat transfixed on Sunday evenings watching Walt Disney's wonderful world of color programs. I didn't know it, but I was developing an inordinate affection with the television set.
Inordinancy can mean excessive, or better put, not limited to rules prescribed, or to usual bounds; becoming intemperate.
When the two tribes of Judah in Ezekiel 23 saw the Northern Kingdoms involved in their whoredoms and idol worship, instead of learning from the Northern Kingdom's mistakes, they became more wicked and fell further away from God. One would think that observing foolishness, sin or some other action would lead us away from that sin, because we would see the failings and dangers associated with them. But this is hardly the case with human nature. It is why we are commanded by Paul in Colossians to Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; Then he lists them:
inordinate affection,
evil concupiscence,
and covetousness, which is idolatry:
And then tells us WHY we should kill them: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
For me, television was a harmless recreation that I enjoyed first thing in the morning when I arose, and watched prior to school, then shortly after returning home, it was a reward if I had my homework done in a timely manner, and a regular past time on the weekends. But harmless it was not.
I found a world view quite different from the one presented by my immediate family. I was told, "we don't do those things." Or "that is not the right way" or "that will only cause you trouble." But in the midst of it, I continued watching, learning, absorbing all the while saying, "that is not what WE do." I remember when Mariann on Gilligan's Island was going through a censorship issue as to "could she bear her belly button or not" and was it acceptable to the average TV addicted society. The answer was "no" she could not do that. But today? A belly button is not only the accepted norm, but a minimum of flesh.
Today, our home is TV free. (We still own one, but it is not connected to any service that provides network access) But that does not mean we don't still watch the Northern Kingdom in all her whoredoms, and soak up her constant iniquities. No, we still have the internet, and we are bombarded with advertisements for every thing that the Northern Kingdom produces. Local video stores have all but dried up in our town due to the popularity of "internet streaming" of the latest releases. While we don't "stream" any thing from the ever popular Netflix and other competing sites, the temptation is ever present.
What is our answer to avoid the temptation of sitting on the border and watching the Northern Kingdom? Mortification. A cutting off will have to occur or our borders will not be secure. Listen to Ezekiel as he describes the result: And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
Aholibah consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. As they watched the Northern Kingdoms, Aholibah was MORE corrupt in her inordinate love. She didn't just become inordinate, but increased.
We have to admit, first we ourselves are also sinful. It is not just "bad ole' Hollywood" but it is bad ole' us as well. We, as sinners, need to live with our running shoes on, staying one step ahead of the "sins which so easily beset us" "fleeing the temptations of our youth", and "looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith."
As you make viewing choices for your family, remember to set no wicked thing before their eyes (Psalm 101:3) and don't place something before your families eyes that they cannot have, but would otherwise be sinfully tempted to take (Mark 10:19 Defraud not).
Living as lights in a dark world, as salt that has not lost its savour is a daily task, and one we would do well to pursue. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not...