6 July 2012

Black Mirror Reveals an Ugly Truth

Channel 4 recently broadcast a series of disturbing dramas entitled ‘Black Mirror’. The screenwriters wanted to hold up a reflection of British society to show us what we really look like, and where we might be heading. The Britain depicted in these dramas was not pretty. They did not present us in the best light. In fact, they made us look downright ugly. They were indeed a Black Mirror.

One of the episodes, called 15 Million Merits (still up on the 4oD website) presents a bleak future where British people have come to live for entertainment. With technology, computer games, reality TV and pornography consuming our lives, meaningful relationships have become rare, and abject loneliness has become the new norm. Entertainment has enslaved us, and we’re not even enjoying it anymore. According to the screenwriters of Black Mirror, this is our future. According to the Bible, this is happening right now. But how?

God made the world to be a good and beautiful place, and he wants us to enjoy it to the full! But the tragic reality is that we take all these good things and turn them into ‘god’ things. We worship the gift, instead of the Giver. And since we are so determined to live our lives without God, he has handed us over to be slaves of our own passions and pleasures. But rather than leading to fun and freedom, this is a slavery that leads only to death, and then eternal death. In Mark’s gospel we are shown a picture of what life in slavery to sin really looks like. Think of it as the Bible’s own Black Mirror – holding up the ugly reality of sin to our faces:

2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 
3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 
4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 
5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. (Mark 5:2-5)  

Just like this man, our sin makes us unclean before a holy God, and places us under the control of Satan. Just like this man, our sin causes us to ruin our relationships, and live in isolation and loneliness. Just like this man discovered, living for ourselves is self-harming and never liberating. Just like this man who dwells in the tombs of dead people, so our sin causes us to be dead to God. This man is beyond help, and so are we, if we believe the mirror the Bible holds up to our faces. The picture may not be pretty. It may not present us in the best light. It may make us look downright ugly. But it is the truth that we need to see, if we are to find freedom from this terrible slavery.

So what hope is there for those enslaved to their passions and pleasures? No human solution can work – religion and morality are slaveries of their own! There is only one man strong enough to subdue Satan. Only one man can free people from lives of sin and death. He is called Jesus Christ. When Jesus met the man with the unclean spirit it only took a few words to release him from the grip of Satan, and immediately he was restored. St. George’s church is full of people who were once enslaved to their passions and pleasures, but who have now found freedom and life in the name of Jesus. If you recognize your face in this Black Mirror join us one Sunday and hear more about the man who can set you free.

Andy Palmer