Summary: This sermon series uses the lens of reality TV to examine the true reality of the Christian life. "Survivor" teaches us that our decisions and actions matter to God.

Rev. Lin Smalec Salem Church, Waynesboro, PA


20 November 2005

A couple had been fighting over the purchase of a new car for weeks. He wanted a new truck. She wanted a fast sports car. The discussion was getting very heated when finally the wife stated, "Look, I want something that goes from 0 to 180 in four seconds or less, and that’s all there is to it! My birthday is coming up and you’d better surprise me, or it’s gonna get mighty lonely for you around here, if you get my drift!" When her big day came, the wife went out to the garage, but there was no new car. Angry, she went back into the house looking for her husband, but he was not at home. Frustrated and upset, she went into the bathroom to get dressed, and there, sitting on the floor and wrapped in a big red ribbon, was her birthday present - something that would go from 0 to 180 in four seconds or less - a brand new scale! (1)

Oh my - I’ll let you imagine the state of that couple’s marriage! But this sad joke proves one important thing - our decisions and actions matter! Now for the last few weeks, we have been using the lens of reality TV shows to illuminate some facets of true reality - the reality of the Christian life. And we will end this series today by acknowledging that one of the most important lessons we learn from our study of reality TV is that our decisions and actions matter. No where is this more evident than in my favorite reality TV show - “Survivor”!

“Survivor” is the granddaddy of the reality TV shows, the first truly great and popular show of this type. In “Survivor”, sixteen to twenty people are marooned for 40 days in a wilderness setting of some kind - currently they are in the jungles and Mayan ruins of Guatemala. They are divided into two tribes, who compete against each other in both physical and mental challenges for rewards such as food and blankets. Every few days, the tribes compete for the all-important “Immunity Idol”. The tribe that loses this competition must go to “Tribal Council” and vote off one of their members. When it gets down to about ten survivors, the two tribes merge into one tribe. Then the competition becomes individual, every person for themselves. Those who are voted off at this point join a jury, who decide at the very end which of the last two survivors has earned the right to be the “Sole Survivor” and win the million dollar prize.

I find “Survivor” fascinating to watch not only because of the creativity of the various challenges and rewards, but for the human element. People form friendships and alliances that can either help them or hurt them in the game. There is also plenty of nastiness, back-stabbing, selfishness, and lying. The survivors must always keep in mind that while they are trying to get ahead at the expense of others, those others could also come back at the end to vote against them. In the game of “Survivor”, it is very evident that decisions and actions matter!

Scripture supports this fact over and over again. Our decisions and actions matter. Of course, the most important decision that Scripture calls us to make is who we will allow to be the Lord of our life. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel are called to make the decision to turn away from idols and false gods, and faithfully follow Yahweh, the Lord God, the Creator of all. In the New Testament, this call is expanded to all people of all nations, who are called to faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Listen to Jesus’ own words on this topic, from the Gospel of John: (READ John 3:16-21).

According to Jesus, our decision matters - our decision to believe and follow Jesus, to accept him as the Lord and Savior of our life, is a decision that has not only earthly, but also eternal consequences. Our decision matters!

But it doesn’t stop there. Our decision impacts our actions. Our decision for salvation should change our actions. This is one way we can know if our salvation decision is more than just an intellectual assent or an emotional response to the moment. Our decision should impact our actions. This is strongly supported by Scripture. Most of us know John 3:16 by heart, but not many of us know the equally important passage of 1 John 3:16 - (READ 1 John 3:16-18).

If we claim to follow Jesus, than our actions should show that fact. You know, I have found it truly interesting to watch those competitors on “Survivor” who claim to be Christian. In a game that, at it’s core, depends upon outwitting, outplaying and outlasting the others, how can a Christian advance in the game without giving in to some pretty un-Christlike actions?

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