(Photo: Dan Delzell)
With another winner being crowned this week on the hugely popular show "Survivor," it seems that more and more of the contestants these days are engaging in prayer and Christian commentary as a way to build their "alliance" with others. One contestant from this latest season even vowed as a "Christian man" that he would not break his promise to those he courted for support. When he eventually went against his word and against those who had trusted him, he was doing what the contest encourages people to do: betray, lie, deceive, manipulate, and use others in an attempt to win one million dollars for yourself.
The show is designed in a way that the most devious people tend to be the most successful. That is consistent with the world's system of success. The world often rewards manipulators with earthly riches. Heaven, on the other hand, rewards true faith with heavenly riches. A reality television show built on betrayal is one where winning will almost always take more than faith. It will usually require that you compromise those values that are truly Christian in order to get the earthly prize.
What if I were to say that you could be on "Survivor" and end up as a huge winner? Here is how your contest works. The first step is for you to become a human being. That birth places you on an "island" known as the earth way out in the middle of the universe. You will face many "challenges" on this island, just like on the show. There will be those who will be scheming to defeat you, just like on "Survivor." In your contest, your opponents consist of "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
It is very important on the television show to find the "hidden immunity idol" in order to protect yourself from those who want to get rid of you. In this real-life contest, you receive immunity when you turn to God in repentance and trust that Jesus died to win immunity for you. That jewel of immunity is "hidden" from the wise and learned and revealed to those who trust the Lord with childlike faith. The immunity that Christ gives a person provides you with the ultimate protection for your soul.
Also, it is critical that you build an alliance with other Christians who will help you stay strong in faith. If you attempt to go at this alone, you will likely be about as successful as those contestants on the show who do not have a strong alliance. Contestants who don't have solid friends usually get voted off early in the game.
Your Christian alliance on earth will be built on trust, love, and honesty rather than lies, betrayal, and deceit. Your Christian alliance will involve believers who work to truly keep you in the contest. Unlike the television show where the team members of the two tribes eventually end up stabbing their teammates in the back, the real-life version allows God's entire team to win the prize as they help one another succeed in their spiritual lives. Success is defined by those believers you help rather than those contestants you betray. The two different approaches are antithetical to one another. The television show actually reveals how Christians are not supposed to act toward one another. It paints a condemning picture of man's ability to be deceptive and cunning in order to gain money for himself. It gets ugly out there on that island!
Your contest involves a lifestyle that is noble and trustworthy. It takes more than faith to win at Christianity in the real-life version of "Survivor." It takes being connected to a group of Christians in a church where the Bible is faithfully proclaimed, and where the love of Christ is shared with those inside and outside the church. Are you a survivor, or one who has been picked off by those scheming against you? Whether you like it or not, you entered this contest the moment you born on this island. Similar to the television show, you have a "great cloud of witnesses" who are watching how well you do in this contest. A divine drama is being played out at this very moment in the universe, and you are a major player in the whole thing.
The television show has a special provision called "Redemption Island" for those who have been voted off. This gives them another opportunity to get back in the game. God has offered us multiple opportunities to come to His version of "Redemption Island" after losing some of our challenges with sin. Even when you and I are guilty of breaking our promises to God on this island, there is still hope to bounce back and do it the right way. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and sends us back into the contest to keep living for Christ. If sin has temporarily knocked you out of the competition, you can get back in there and keep competing for the prize. That's what God's "Redemption Island" is all about.
Remember....there is a simple plan to be a winner in the real world. Be born. Get your immunity. Build your alliance. You will receive far more than one million dollars. You will receive a kingdom that will never end. That is the prize you would be wise to pursue with all of your heart, soul, and mind.
It is ironic that so many people who love to watch "Survivor" on television will never actually get to enjoy any eternal rewards. Why not? Because they will leave this island on earth before even realizing they were in a real contest with real schemers working against them. The television show will go off the air one day and many people will be no better off for having been fixated on it. The real world version that involves you is actually much more exciting to those who are watching in the heavenly realms. Are you engaged in your contest, or too busy watching "reality shows" on television to even notice the divine drama going on all around you?