My wife Stacey and I have been through several ‘iterations’ of thinking on television and online media since we’ve been married. In one season we enjoy Netflix, Red Box or Amazon Instant Video movies to the point that we get ‘saturated’ by them. Then we resolve to not let it ‘saturate’ us and take it away. Then we take on a little more here and there, and in a few months we are feeling ‘saturated’ again.
We went so far one year to create a ‘TV alternative game’ that had ideas for things to do when you were effectively ‘bored’ and had the itch to watch TV. We bring it out from time to time, though all the ideas require ‘energy’, which we seem to not have when we want to soak up a form of entertainment.
So… what does TV do to you? Have you ever considered that?
Take into account all the possibilities for how you (and your spouse and kids if you are so fortunate) could spend one evening. Just one evening. Here are a few ideas:
- Have someone over to the house for board games
- Be a blessing to elderly neighbors by visiting and maybe even helping them with something
- Write an adoring entry in a journal to give your kids some day when they grow up
- Go swimming
- Teach your kids a stunt, some jokes, or bake with them. Make an indoor fort if they’re young, or talk and connect with your teenager until you both have to sleep out of exhaustion.
- Take deep breaths and ponder life
In today’s society, we are tragically afraid of boredom. We never think we have enough time, yet we stuff our free time with checking up on what people think of us online and our favorite media channels. We always want more stuff that we can ‘tolerate’ but doesn’t build us up, such as sugary coffee drinks, evening television. We want less of things that make us think, that make us feel, that make us take deep breaths, enjoy life and prepare emotionally for the next day we will live.
Boldly allowing boredom to come on you can be a true blessing. Because too much boredom causes fathers to come up with new ways to lead his family and keep them engaged in life. It causes mothers to snuggle more with her young kids, to take her teenagers out on dates more often. It causes kids to use their imagination and find ways to play nicely with their siblings, since they’ve “got nothing better to do”.
Too much boredom leads to a sense that you should do things with your life that build you up, even things that have eternal value. Spending time with family. Thinking about those who don’t have the benefit of knowing Christ, and finding ways to spread that joy to them. Capturing enough or even that elusive thing: extra sleep. Donating time and energy to a non-profit. “Inventing” as we call it (my son playing legos and daddy coming up with new business and programming ideas). Reading. Being and feeling human.
We all (myself included) too easily buy into the lie that entertainment is the “good stuff” – what we as humans are meant for. What you should spend your money on. But I’d compare entertainment to eating 5 pixie sticks every night or an afternoon at Chuck E Cheese’s. It seems like a good thing in theory, but it quickly is agitating and useless.
This is all like paying to have trash delivered to your house. That’d be crazy, right? But have you seen the front page of Netflix? Can you stare at those movie pictures and not somewhere, somehow, deep inside have a part of you converted into something God did not intend for you?
We keep trying different flavors of entertainment until we find something that really captivates us. Maybe it’s your little “guilty pleasure”… you deserve it, right? But Solomon warns us,
“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” – Proverbs 25:16, ESV
Entertainment is fun, but too much of it can lead to numbness and death. In one of my darkest seasons of life, I had a 50″ high definition TV with loud speakers that set me back a few grand. I thought this would bring my enjoyment of media to ‘new heights’. If you’ve done the same, you may have realized that a 50″ seems like only a 45″ TV after a week. After a month or two, it seems like a 30″ TV and pretty soon… well, you get numb. Yes, it’s “nice” to have a 50″, but wouldn’t it be better to have a 3D experience with a 7-channel surround sound? Or maybe a 65″ TV, or a 4K TV. Indeed, if TV could bring life, it would have already. But when I think of my most TV-addicted friends, my mind fills with images of rundown trailer parks, bad health, broken and dysfunctional families.
So, what then? Is entertainment WRONG and SINFUL for you? Maybe so, maybe not. Indeed, we have liberty through Christ, so I’m not going to preach at you that it is wrong across the board, or tell you to limit it to one hour per day, week, month so you can feel good about yourself.
But the better question is, does entertainment get me closer to who God wants me to become? As Christians, are we so foolish to think that something pop culture has invented can be more restful, fun and relaxing than that which God could give us? Are you holding on to God for the eternal security benefits, but holding on to media so you can pass the days? I truly hope this convicts some of you and wakes you up out of your slumber.
If you are addicted to filling your days with entertainment, how do you get loose of it?
- Acknowledge your addiction, confess to a friend or spouse if you believe it is sin for you (Romans 14:22-23)
- Pray that God help loose you from it. Remember that God will test you in some seasons, but He does not tempt you. (James 1:13-15) Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. Wow!
- If you are separated from daily reading of the Bible and connection with your Creator, get back to it! The Bible is the living Word of God, it is powerful and you should not see it as second rate compared to the compelling and entrancing media of today.
- Embrace the Holy Spirit’s work in you. Work out your faith, but rely on God for the will to do what He would have you do. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” Philippians 2:12b-13, NKJV
- Find God’s ways of being entertained. He has built them in to everyday family life – from laughing at my baby getting food all over her face and hair, to the enjoyment of teaching my son to read and build, to, well, ahem.. the joy of spiritual and physical intimacy with my wife! God never intended for life to be dull and grey, the snake in the garden just tricked you into believing it.
So, what are you afraid of? What will happen if you disconnect media? Our Netflix account is cutting off in one day, and our family is down to 1-2 hours of entertainment (electronic games, movies, television shows) a week. And our young kids behave better, we have more family tickle fights, wrestling and my son and I do more “inventing” / building time than ever before.
Worried you won’t be able to live without entertainment? Then just CUT IT OUT OF YOUR LIFE, cold and hard. Prove that you can handle life without it. Booyah, Netflix, take that. YOU DON’T HAVE POWER OVER ME ANY MORE! Journal your steps and see if you feel better about life after three weeks.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
It is time for us as Christians to quit looking so much like the world. We don’t need to blend in as much as we have been. It doesn’t help us evangelize, we are already too watered down. We were made to be spicy and bold! We have a job to do – 2 Corinthians 5:20 – and we don’t have forever to do it. And while we may still enter the Kingdom, it may be that everything that we did here is just.. burned up and useless – 1 Corinthians 3:15. How embarrassing would that be to find that out one day?
I’ll let Paul wrap this post up:
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:11-14
May God richly bless you with every spiritual blessing.