Last week Sunday, I was among the 99.9 million people who tuned in to watch Super Bowl LIV (54). To be honest, it was the first NFL football game that I had watched all season. I’m not what you would call a die-hard football fan. Super Bowl Sunday at our house is really just a reason to have some friends over, enjoy a smorgasbord of delicious food, and partake in a tradition of watching the big game. As far as I could tell, with my limited knowledge and feeble opinion, it was a good game. The Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers and I enjoyed our evening of festivities. We had lots of laughs, some lively discussions, and full bellies. But as our guests headed for home and I cleaned up around the house, I had one regret. (Well, two, if you count the number of cheeseballs I ate!) In years past, we have enjoyed watching the eccentrics of the halftime shows; the smoke, the lights, the glitz and glamour, and marveled at the time and energy it takes to produce such a display. But this year, I wished we had changed the channel.
Change the channel. This is a phrase that has been looping through my mind like an instant replay. When I was a youngster, we had the pleasure of watching television on a large wooden console with alien-like antenna poking out the top, and a variety of channels to choose from; two, to be exact. Our family would gather around the television to watch shows like the Dukes of Hazard or Full House or Lawrence Welk, and we actually watched the advertisements during the commercial breaks or used that time to run to the bathroom or get a snack. But at the conclusion of a show, if Mom or Dad didn’t care for the program that was airing next, they would say, “Change the channel.” We didn’t have a remote control that could change the broadcast at the push of a button, it took effort to get up off the couch, walk across the room, and turn the knob. We often joked that the only reason parents had children was so they would have someone to change the channel on the TV.
In the world we live in, we are flooded with channel choices. Currently, my cable tv package includes over 95 channels and more than a dozen stations are programmed on my car radio. Choosing what channel we play on the radio or watch on television is an important decision. But choosing what channel we play in our mind is of even greater importance.
Like the two-option television of my childhood, there are two basic channels that broadcast in our minds. Not Channel “11” or “13”, but the channels known as “Positive” and “Negative”. Moses presented the channel choice to the Israelites this way: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Paul presents a different view of the same choice: “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) And Jesus’ entire ministry was about changing the channel: love your enemies, instead of hating them; don’t count offenses, but forgive those who hurt you; serve other people instead of worrying about who is serving you; don’t get revenge, turn the other cheek; consider yourself blessed when people insult you… All of these and more, require a change in our thinking and changing our thinking requires effort.
So what channel is your mind playing? Is it a channel of negativity, self-hatred, destruction, and death? Or is it a channel filled with things that are positive, pure, excellent, and praiseworthy? The choice is yours. Change the channel.