At the back of the Interlinc YLO magazines, there are short Bible devotions based on pop tunes. Here's one I wrote for Brad Paisley's "Online." (It's in YLO 70)
Artist: Brad Paisley
Album: 5th Gear
Union Congregational Church
Teaching Point: Authenticity
Opening Question: What do you think about playing make-believe?
Discussion: Pretending to be someone else works great when others understand that you’re pretending, but what about pretending to be someone else and keeping it a secret?
Brad Paisley is known for writing and singing songs that poke fun at the silly things people do. "Online" explores that fantasy world of internet personalities and online escape. The song describes a person who thinks their life is dull and meaningless in the ‘real world’ but who experiences a much more exciting life when they pretend to be somebody else online.
Actors portray people different than they are in movies and on television, but the audience knows that, as believable a character as they express, they are still pretending to be someone else. When Mister Rogers encouraged children to be part of the neighborhood of make-believe, he was encouraging them to use their imaginations to pretend – but no to try make what was pretend into something that others thought was real.
One of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16) tells us not to lie. Colossians 3:9 says "Do not lie to each other." Romans 12:9 teaches us that our love for each other is supposed to be genuine – not pretend. If we’re pretending to be someone else and keeping that pretending a secret from everyone else, aren’t we lying and basing our relationships on something that is fake instead of genuine?
Conclusion: Many people long for a life that has more excitement. Sometimes we use our imagination and pretend to be able to do different things and to be different people. When our pretending turns into lying, however, we’re making a mistake. Let’s remember to live our lives truthfully and to base our relationships with one another on genuine love.