?Riding the Video Bus?

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creepting things” (Romans 1:21-23).
I noticed the sign in the bus ticket window in Shyafru Bensi, Nepal — “Video Bus” — and thought, “Yeah, right.” To my surprise, however, after about half-an-hour’s travel the conductor removed a cloth from a cabinet above and behind the driver’s head to reveal a television with DVD player. He plugged in a disc, and sure enough, there we were watching Hindu music videos while riding towards Kathmandu.
The problem with that, from my perspective, was that we were in the midst of arguably the most spectacular scenery on earth, the Himalaya mountains. To our right and slightly behind were the awesome snow covered peaks of Langtang Himal. Beside and in front of us was the beautiful gorge of the Bhoti Khosi River, opening up further ahead to a breathtaking valley. Everywhere were the wooded and cultivated foothills of the Himalayas. Each year millions of people travel thousands of miles to visit such scenes, and here we were watching a little box providing artificial entertainment.
Substitutes can be enticing. For a little less money we can have something “almost as good.” For less effort we can achieve results, “nearly as effective.” I love coffee, especially brewed coffee. I am continually amazed at those who settle for instant, just to avoid the time and trouble of making a pot of the real thing. The truth is, it doesn’t take that long, and it is not that much trouble. Yet many willingly make the swap. In coffee and scenery this is not particularly important. But in other areas of life, settling for less can lead to tragic failure.
God created marriage and the home as an ideal environment for intimacy, child-rearing, and companionship. Our world offers promiscuity, “sexual revolution,” homosexuality, and adulterous affairs as substitutes. These may offer certain pleasures, but they cannot compare to the fulfillment available in a genuine Biblical marriage based on love, trust, and respect.
God created man and woman in his own image, and welcomed them into a free and open relationship with their maker. Deceived by Satan, humanity has reduced God to idolatrous images and finite conceptions. Religion has become a system of appeasement and self glorification, far different from the communion with the Divine intended from the beginning.
Thankfully, however, we do not have to settle for substitutes. On the bus in Nepal I simply ignored the loud music and continued to look in awe at the spectacular scenery as we drove down from the mountains. I did not have to watch the DVD, even though it was available. Life offers the same options. Let us always focus on the real and eternal, ignoring the deceptions and enticements of superficial substitutes.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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