Disclaimer: If you’re a reality television aficionado, you may not want to read this…
Since 2000, the reality television show Cheaters has titillated its audiences by exposing adulterous couples caught in the act. Usually, each episode concludes with the host, Joey Greco lecturing the adulterers on their sinful and self-absorbed behavior. And really, Greco is seemingly the right man for the job, considering that he is a graduate of Evangel University, an Assemblies of God school in southern Missouri. He holds an undergraduate degree in counseling and a Masters in counseling as well.
In the defining moment that brought Cheaters to the top of the heap in reality programming, Greco was stabbed by an angry boyfriend who was caught in an indiscretion. With the cameras rolling, Greco was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, barely evading his own death. Voyeuristic audiences ate it up like a side order of chili cheese fries.
But did you know that every episode is staged? The above video clip exposes the depths of the Cheaters television show.
Think about it: the television show that exposes cheaters in reality cheats its television audience. But before you jump on your high horse and criticize those cheaters, you might want to first take a long hard look at yourself.
Please join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover the depths of your cheatin’ heart.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Hosea 1:1-3:5. The prophet Hosea lived during the final days of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century b.c. Over a 25 year period, 6 kings ruled over the country, bringing a great deal of instability and anxiety to the people. Of those six kings, four were murdered by their successors, one was captured in battle, and only one was succeeded by his son.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
“If my wife ever cheats on me, that’s it for us. I just won’t put up with it,” the newlywed husband informed my wife and me years ago. He was self-assured and cocky, like many men in their 20s who have yet to experience the blow to the gut that life can give.
Within two years, his wife’s affair brought him to his knees. Miraculously enough, 20 years later they’re still married.
The older I get, the less I’m surprised by stories of cheatin’ hearts. In fact, when I look in the mirror, a cheatin’ heart looks back at me.
The book of Hosea is the gospel for sinners. God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a woman of ill repute. She was the poster child of marital infidelity, unfaithfulness, and the cheatin’ heart.
Despite the love and loyalty of her godly husband, Gomer’s insatiable appetite for other lovers led her astray. Yet Hosea continued to lovingly pursue his wife. Twice, her illicit lovers impregnated her, and twice, Hosea accepted her children as his.
I’ve often wondered how Hosea felt about his union to Gomer. In wedding ceremonies I pronounce to everyone, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one separate.” God brought Hosea and Gomer together knowing that she would cheat on her husband. And Hosea knew it, too. Imagine the pain, stress, and humiliation Hosea felt.
But the hardest blow to us, the reader, is the fact that Hosea’s and Gomer’s relationship is a picture of our relationship to God.
At that time, Israel was experiencing a rapid decline. Godly spiritual values were deteriorating while idolatry was on the rise. The local economy was in bad shape. The military was losing it’s strength. The judicial system was corrupt. Most disturbing was society’s growing addiction to pleasure, materialism, indulgence, and immorality.
The deepest betrayal is an adulterous affair. Every time our cheatin’ hearts convince us to think only of ourselves, or we lust after another person, or believe that a little more money or some other possession will fill the hole in our heart, or we tell a white lie, or try to portray ourselves as better than we really are, we follow in Gomer’s footsteps. Sin is adultery against God. And we’re no better than the cheaters who chastise the cheaters on reality television.
John the apostle wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We’re all equal opportunity offenders.
But that’s not the end of the story.
How does God respond to our indiscretions? Describing Israel’s sin, God told Hosea, “I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her” (Hosea 2:14). Speak tenderly?? After everything Israel had done??
Such is God’s deep love for us.
John expressed it this way: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Our sin is dark, heinous. Yet God’s love is stronger than our deepest, darkest sin. God longs to be united with us in an unhindered relationship. If you think you’ve ventured too far away from God or your betrayal of him is too great, take comfort in the story of Hosea and Gomer.
You may have stopped pursuing God, but he will never stop pursuing you.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What does your cheatin’ heart look like?
- What elements in the book of Hosea do you identify with most? Why?
- Do you ever doubt God’s relentless love for you? Why?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.