“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”
Reality TV—Americans love it! Shows such as American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen, Dance Moms, and Storage Wars have captured the affection of viewers from all across the United States. In fact, a recent study shows that even in the UK 70% of the population over the age of four years old regularly watches at least one reality show.[i]
Why is reality TV so popular? I don’t know for sure, but I have a theory: because it’s not real. Yes, it’s true, TV producers control the outcome, typically not the participants. We love reality TV because it gives an illusion of being real but is partially fake and the outcome can be manipulated.
So how about actual reality . . . Do we love to talk about what happened, is currently happening, or what is about to happen? Not so much.
One topic we usually don’t like to discuss is what happens after we die. And when we do, we treat the discussion like a Reality TV show: we mix and match secular and religious beliefs from books, movies, and conversations with friends to fabricate the best possible outcome for ourselves. For example, a recent study found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe they are going to heaven. (Only 1% felt that they were bound for hell.) But when asked why they felt they would go to heaven, the answers greatly varied. [ii]
Even among the ones who believed in hell, most did not agree with that this is an actual place of torture and suffering, as the Bible describes in Mark 9:48, Matthew 13:50, and other places. Some have developed their own image of hell. A movie released in 2009 is actually called I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.[iii]
In this era of participation trophies, many in our culture feel as if they deserve to go to heaven. As a result, they develop a formula that gets them to heaven without having to acknowledge that Jesus is the ONLY way. In His day, Jesus responded to those who made their own theories about the afterlife. Some thought they were going to heaven just because they acknowledged God existed. His response? Good for you. Even demons believe that and are terrified about the idea of going to hell.
I get it, no one likes to think about heaven and hell because, if we are intellectually honest, we know that someone is going to be right, and someone will be wrong—tragically wrong. The problem with creating your own theory is that by the time we discover the truth, it’s too late to change our mind.
What if you could know with 100% accuracy that you were going to heaven when you die? The Bible clearly states that God loves us so much that He sent His only son so that we could spend all of eternity in a place where there is no pain, suffering, or illness.[iv] All we need to do is ask God to forgive our sins[v] and openly admit that Jesus is the only one who can save us[vi] because we can’t earn our own way into heaven.[vii]
Hell, on the other hand, is a place of never-ending fire prepared for the devil and his angels.[viii]
Do you really want to entrust the most important decision of your life—where you will spend all of the next life—to chance, fate, or the producers?
References: [i] https://www.jobmonkey.com/realitytv/reality-tv-statistics/ [ii] https://www.deseret.com/2003/10/25/19792181/most-believe-in-heaven-and-think-they-ll-go-there [iii] Tucker Max and Nils Parker, 2009 [iv] John 3:16, Revelation 21:4 [v] 1 John 1:9 [vi] Romans 10:9 [vii] Ephesians 2:8 [viii]Matthew 25:41