Drive through any residential neighborhood after dark. What do you see? Look through almost every living room window on the street, and you will see a flashing glow. It’s a TV. Most homes have them, and they are turned on more than they are turned off. Go to most restaurants, and you can see about ten of them from any place you sit. Go into the bathrooms of some of these restaurants and you will most likely see some there too. It’s almost obnoxious. Often we dedicate entire rooms to a TV. All the furniture is arranged in just a certain way, so that no matter where you sit, you can see the TV. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not condemning our arranging our furniture in this way. I merely bring attention to the fact that the TV has a very prominent place in our homes and almost everywhere else.
We hear warnings against various abuses of entertainment all the time, but it is good to remind ourselves again of some of the dangers, especially in the light of the inheritance we have been given. We will focus our attention on what is probably the chief means of entertainment, the TV. Keep in mind that what we used to be able to access solely through the TV can now more easily be accessed online using Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, and the others. This changes things quite a bit. Now we are able to access whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, not just whatever happens to be on TV at any given time.
I think we can agree that the vast majority of TV shows and movies are clearly full of sin, and the rest of them are probably not even worth taking the time to watch. Why should we even try to watch some of this stuff, thinking it might be OK when in the back of our minds we know that it is not OK anyway? The key to this is knowledge. We must take care that we are not willfully placing ourselves in danger by watching some of this stuff. This is dangerous ground. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26, 27).
So what makes the majority of Hollywood’s productions wicked? It’s not just the fact that one watches the actors sin by breaking every single commandment; it’s the fact that one considers this entertaining. Not just being entertained by the sins of others, but glorying in their sins; laughing as they curse God or give most conversations a sexual innuendo; salivating as they fornicate with each other, cheat on their spouses, and bare all for the viewers to see. When one enjoys watching the world sin, he joins himself to that sin and is every bit as guilty as the one acting the part.
We need to consider what we are doing to ourselves if we are viewing this kind of stuff. Those images can be so easily burned into our memories, only to resurface again and again, making us fall over and over. Every single time we join ourselves with the sins of the world in this way, we are burning ourselves. Even if we are just dabbling a little bit every now and again, we still are burning ourselves little by little until our spiritual pain receptors are destroyed, and we become desensitized to these sins. They become the norm. The breaking of the law of God does not grieve us anymore as it should. We are burned, we are hardened, and we have forgotten our inheritance. This is right where Satan wants us, because once we become so desensitized to sin, it is very hard to break free from it. But God’s grace is sufficient, and he leads his straying children back to the sheepfold, just as in the parable of the prodigal son.
There are plenty of legitimate ways we may entertain ourselves. But we can abuse even appropriate entertainment. One of the ways we can abuse appropriate entertainment is by overconsumption. While watching sports is an appropriate way to entertain ourselves, it might be really easy for us to devote the greater part of most Saturdays to sitting in front of the TV watching our favorite team. We feel as if we need to catch every minute of every game, while at the same time forgetting about what other responsibilities we might have. It may become such a part of our life that our life seems to revolve around sports. We plan our lives around what time a certain game starts and ends. We can’t have a conversation with someone without talking about this team or that player. We find ourselves with more knowledge of player and team stats than knowledge of scripture. This is why with overconsumption necessarily comes idolatry. We have forgotten what is important. We have forgotten our inheritance, just as Israel of old. Same concept, just a different type of god.
Facebook and other social media outlets can be valuable tools. They are valuable tools that our evangelism committees can use in the spread of the gospel. They are valuable to us in our personal lives as well. We can keep up with friends and family that live far away. They can be an effective means for our personal witness as well. We can also appropriately entertain ourselves by playing games with other friends. But how do we portray ourselves on Facebook, for example? What kinds of pictures do we post for the world to see? What kind of videos are we posting or watching? How are we commenting on other people’s pictures and videos? Do we show that we belong to Christ, or does our online presence match that of an ungodly person’s profile? Facebook can be abused the same way sports are. Overconsumption can be a very real problem. We feel we need to stay connected at every moment of the day. There is the danger that it becomes such a part of us that we are more devoted to checking our Facebook every day than we are to taking time out of every day for reflection on God’s word. We get updates on our phones via email that so and so commented on this, so and so posted that, or so and so “likes” this. We can’t pull ourselves away from it. The next sin we can fall into is idolatry. Why do we use Facebook? Do we use it in the proper way, or do we use it to groom our profiles in such a way so that others can be impressed by us, look up to us, and “like” us? Do the things we say and the pictures or videos we post reflect the inheritance that we claim as our own?
We might be tempted to say, “There’s nothing else to do, so I’m just going to go on Facebook, or watch TV, or rent a movie.” We need to remember that there always is something else to do. We need to be feeding ourselves continually with the good stuff, the things that have eternal value. Remember what Rev. Decker said in his speech at convention this past summer. If you did not hear the speech, you can read it in the October issue of Beacon Lights. “You are what you eat.” If we feed on junk day after day, or even just spend too much time doing things that aren’t necessarily bad in themselves, but really don’t help us, the results are devastating. The entertainment industry is one of Satan’s favorite and most effective tools he uses to prevent us from developing in our inheritance. He uses even good entertainment to this end. We get so distracted by entertainment that we forget or just plain ignore what we should be doing.
Keep in mind what the Lord has given us. We have inherited much, and there is much we are called to do with our inheritance during the short time we have here on this earth. As children of God placed in a world saturated by entertainment, we may entertain ourselves, and we may delight in doing so, but there are more urgent things at hand. We are called to develop in our inheritance, and in doing so our greater delight will be in the Lord, because at his right hand is lasting pleasure. To this we turn next month.