By Dave Brewer
--------There are people who curse television and people who rejoice in it. For decades millions of children across the country anxiously awaited to see Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood every day. A kind and gentle genius, this man of faith introduced children to his loveable puppets, teaching children that each of them was unique. One show that I remember, was when he introduced children to a whole new world, the spectacular beauty of undersea life with brilliantly-colored fish, coral reefs, and incredible diversity. In the same way in the Bible, God introduces us to an unseen world that awaits us that is devoid of evil, and is full of never-dreamed- about heavenly beauty. Fred Rogers had a sign on the wall of his office that reflected his life philosophy—“Life is for service.”
As children matured into their teens and went off to college, Mr. Rogers was a discarded relic of their childhood, like their dolls or Star Wars figures. In 1987 he was to be the commencement speaker at Bowling Green University, and when the students found out, they were furious and demanded another celebrity. When his replacement, the famous William F. Buckley was finished with his message, which was very intellectual, Fred Rogers was asked to say a few words. Someone in the crowd yelled for him to sing his song, and he agreed as long as the graduating students would join him. Soon over 2,000 students were waving their arms and singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” Buckley spoke to their brains, Fred Rogers spoke to their emotions, and they were transformed by his love back into the bliss of their childhood. He used the media of television to reach the hearts of an untold number of children.
On the other hand, the youth culture expert Walt Mueller, President of the Center for Parent
and Youth Understanding, travels the country teaching leaders about the negative impact of the media. He maintains that television has rapidly eroded the innocence of childhood, prematurely exposing children to the adolescent world which is devoid of a moral compass. Teens do not view television through the critical lens of adult eyes, and so the immoral behavior portrayed in many shows becomes the norm, or an actual “map” of acceptable behavior. For many it becomes the life to be emulated as the “good life.”
One of my favorite shows, however, is Undercover Boss. In this show the CEO of a prosperous company goes undercover in disguise to see how his company employees are working, and how they perceive company management. The stories are heart-warming and powerful. They demonstrate how easily people will share their own story if we engage them, show a listening ear, and ask a few key questions. Employees often tell a tale of brokenness, of hardship or failure. Many of them demonstrate a non-complaining, hard-working attitude, and a dedication to their own family members and the company they work for. The CEOs are shocked by what they hear, sometimes reduced to tears as they hear the stories, and often transformed by their experience. Frequently they are convicted of their own aloofness or ignorance of the suffering or struggle of other people. When the heart of each CEO is touched, they learn the incredible joy of giving, of the power of love and generosity to change the life of their employees who are down on their luck.
This television show Undercover Boss teaches listeners one of the core truths of the transforming message of Jesus Christ: by sacrificial love, by generosity, by emptying ourselves for others, we are blessed. This is not a substitute for sharing the cornerstone of our faith- the gospel of Jesus Christ; however, it is a sidecar. Through a life of service to others we make the invisible God visible to a hurting world. Jesus laid down his life for us to save us from our sins, and he challenges us to follow in his footsteps. In II Corinthians 8:9 it says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for
your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Christmas is the season of giving. Christ Church at Grove Farm impacts thousands of lives by supporting life-changing ministries all over the world. You too can transform lives by generosity towards people who you know who are in need, like single- parent families, a person going through a divorce, or a widow facing a health problem. Be generous this Christmas, and you will experience the same incredible joy that the CEOs experience on Undercover Boss. You will discover what it means to live a Christ-like life.