Click here to listen to this sermon.

The king of all reality television is "Survivor." It was one of the first and it remains one of the most popular. For nine years American audiences have watched players outwit, outlast, and outplay one another in a game in which people are “voted off the island.” Double-crosses, alliances, tricks and strategies are all part of getting rid of others so that the winner is the last person left – the Survivor, who takes home a prize of $1 Million.

I wish I knew what it was about "Survivor" that bugs me. Maybe it’s the fact that it seems to tap into the “Survival of the Fittest, Dog-Eat-Dog” mentality that brings out the worst in our culture.

It’s not just a game. I wonder if we don’t sometimes think that to get ahead we have to compete. Outwit, outlast, and outplay is more than a catchphrase for a game show. It’s tapping into our worst fears as we struggle for our own way and for (what we think are) limited resources.

"Survivor" ends wrongly also. After all the alliances and backbiting, the game comes down to two people. A jury decides who will get the $1 Million. That’s revealed on a big final episode in New York, and the winner celebrates and all the losers are there to act like good sports. If "Survivor" is going to be true to its creed (Outwit, Outplay, Outlast) then I think the final "Survivor" should be left alone on the island with the $1 Million. After all, if the point is to get rid of everyone else, then really do it. Leave the winner with the cash and a note that says, “You got rid of everyone else. You outlasted them all. Here’s the cash. Now use it to get off the island.”

That would be a more fitting conclusion I think.

You won’t see a lot of giving encouraged on "Survivor." Not unless there are strings attached. I could comment on a game show and we could all walk out of here lamenting how horrid TV is and we won’t gain a thing. But let’s stop and ask ourselves how we escape the corruption of mindsets and worldviews that make us think the goal is to outwit, outplay, and outlast. For if we do stick to that sort of mindset and behavior in family, work, society, or church, we will find ourselves stuck alone with cash – and no one to share it with, spend it on, or buy things from.

The antidote to the poison of selfishness is giving. Giving is a discipline that develops our godly character. Last week we mentioned how we are blessed when we give in. We participate in heaven’s economy when we share freely with one another. Sharing with one another as church is the mission of God at work in this world. But God’s kingdom is always larger than his church. God is drawing in the outsiders and adding them to his church.

Giving Out means ...

Outflowing of God’s Grace

Caring about the Outsider

Outrage at poverty and injustice

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 7 June 2009

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin