Last week while I was laid up with a fibromyalgia attack, my stepdaughter Michelle, who was visiting from Philadelphia, was sweet enough to hang with me in my bedroom. She just grabbed a pillow and flopped down by me on the bed and kept me company for hours, which couldn’t have been a lot of fun for a 21-year-old young woman. Realizing she was being a real sweetie and figuring I owed her one, I let Michelle choose what we watched on TV. That was how we ended up watching Ghost Hunters.
This was quite an interesting experience, although not an interesting show. The show itself consisted of an hour of people in empty rooms being filmed with night vision cameras, asking each other “Did you hear that?” “Did that sound like something tapping?” “Did you see something move over there?” “I think it looked like that shadow shifted, did you see it?” I saw nothing and heard nothing, other than people working their imaginations up to fever pitch and making much out of normal building noises. Every so often one would call out “Is somebody there? Can you make yourself known?” Nothing ever did.
What I found interesting in watching that very boring bit of television was realizing that the show and others like it are so popular, despite the fact that literally nothing is happening on screen. I think it has nothing to do with the show and everything to do with the fact that people desperately want an answer to that question – “is somebody there?”
Our society is obsessed with the supernatural – everything from TV shows on ghosts and the afterlife to paying psychics to get in touch with loved ones who have passed, to those who believe they are reincarnated from previous lives or can channel “guides” from the spirit realm. We want to know that somebody is out there, that there is more than just us.
People search through these and more trying to find something to believe in. Some people trust angels to guide them, some believe that the universe makes everything happen the way it’s supposed to. But sadly, ironically, so many people miss the true answer, the real Somebody that is indeed there.
I think it’s because we tend to want a more exciting answer, something to give us thrills, ooohs and aahs, goosebumps. We as a society have minimalized and trivialized God so that he is anything but exciting to our way of thinking. “God” as an answer to the search for meaning, for direction, is met with boredom or resistance because God has become synonymous with legalism, rules, and long, dull sermons. The truth of God as the source of freedom, joy, peace, excitement, vibrant life, abundance, wholeness… has been all but lost as we the church have failed to live out the fullness of redemption and justification in all its glory and instead spent too much time concentrating on trying to force the world to stop committing some of our chosen “bad” sins. All the while, they’re still wandering, trying to find out if there’s anybody there.
Somebody is most definitely there, and not just “there”, but here, in me and in us who are called by his name. I need to live every day to let his glory shine through me, so it can be seen clearly and brilliantly, drawing people to the joy of his presence. No one should have to say “I think I saw something – did you see that?” when it comes to the light of Jesus in me.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 14-16 MSG