Today we finish out our series called American Idolatry. Over the past several weeks, we’ve discussed how idolatry is found all throughout our culture. You can see where we have made idols out of very good things. These idols cannot save us. Money, sex, identity and family are all good things, but only when they are in their rightful place. But too often, we elevate these items to the position of God and that’s when they cease to be good things, but rather they become idols.
Today we are going to look at one more area of idolatry. Today we are going to discuss the idol of entertainment. This idol is found throughout our lives. We are constantly bombarded with distractions in the form of entertainment. Over the past ten years, it almost seems like it has multiplied. We now carry around “smart phones” in our pockets so we can stay entertained all hours of the day.
And part of the problem is once you get in the habit of constantly being entertained, it’s incredibly hard to cut it off. Instead of drugs, we have generations of people addicted to cell phones and Netflix. And like people who are addicted to anything else, we tell ourselves, “well, I can quit at any time.”. But is that the truth? No of course, not. We can’t quit, the addiction has a hold of us. I see people in church checking Facebook and Instagram.
Now I could go whole hog and say we just need to get rid of all forms of entertainment. We need to cut the cord, put the cell phone in the drawer and tell your friends you are getting rid of Facebook. But I don’t think that’s the answer either.
I think entertainment mediums, like so many other things, are actually good…if used in a godly way. The problem with addictions though, is that when we are addicted to something, we are making it into a god in our lives. We are giving it all of our time and attention. And that should be given to God alone. God alone is worthy of our love and adoration. If we find that we are more excited to talk about the newest Netflix show than we are talking about our King, then we really should reevaluate our relationship with the Father.
It’s like we are scared of being bored. We are scared of the quiet. We are scared to be alone with our thoughts. Maybe we are just scared. Fear of boredom shouldn’t be a motivator for entertainment, but it is for a lot of people. I read an article a few months back and it was talking about Netflix’s primary competitor. You would think it would have been about Amazon Prime or Apple TV or Disney +, but it wasn’t. It seems that Netflix thinks that it’s primary competitor is sleep. Yep, you heard that right. One of the world’s largest streaming video services views sleep is as it’s primary competitor. And, my question is…are they wrong? I mean, I know so many people that binge watch television shows that they end up staying up most of the night getting in that one last episode. They go through the next day like a zombie and then do it again the next night. And the truth is, they would watch more if it weren’t for having to sleep. And that to me is insanity, but it happens all the time.
So maybe it’s the boredom or the quiet that scares us. Typically, with idolatry we see the idol functionally taking the place of God as well. So functionally when we are spending our time being entertained, we are losing time that we could be spending with God. Time that we could be spending in his word.
I hear a lot of Christians say they would love to read the bible more, or pray more, or serve more, but they can’t because they don’t have the time. They don’t have the time, yet they spend whatever free time they have being entertained by something. And I’m speaking of myself here too. It’s so easy to be distracted these days with all of the trappings of entertainment out there. It takes intentional actions on your part as a Christian to make sure that entertainment doesn’t become an idol.
If you feel like entertainment has become an idol, here are three ways that I’ve found that you can help put entertainment back in its proper place.
- Schedule entertainment. That’s right, if you schedule it, you are more likely to do it. Scheduling time on the television or iPad can help ensure that you don’t over do it. Allow a certain amount of time for entertainment and then when your time is up, cut it off. If you can stick to a schedule, this can be very helpful to you.
- Delay it. If you aren’t a scheduling person, every time you feel the need to be entertained, purposefully put it off for 30 minutes, or an hour or a day. Whatever works best. When you feel that itch in your hand to grab your cell phone, tell yourself, let’s delay this for a while. You’ll be surprised at how well this works, it’s a bit more painful than the scheduling method, but it can be quite useful in cutting the amount of time you spend on a device or being entertained.
- Cut the cord. Yep, if you can’t find ways to curb the habit and put it in its proper place, then it’s time to call and cancel that streaming service. Like Jesus said, if your right hand causes you to sin, cut if off. If you can’t control a habit, then it’s best to rid yourself of the temptation.
So there you go. Three good ways to help you fight the addiction of entertainment. But before we go today, I do want to spend just a minute encouraging you to switch your mindset. Here’s what I mean. God has made us in His image. And he’s a creator. He’s actually really big into creation. He paints beautiful sunsets and the mountains he built have a beauty that is beyond comparison. And you are made in His image. That means you should be like him. You should be creating.
I urge you to be more than just a consumer of entertainment but go out and make good quality entertainment. Christians deserve good quality entertainment and it’s your job to find ways to provide that. Don’t settle into the idea that you aren’t creative or that someone else can do it better. Step up and do it!
To end the show today, here are a few bible verses to encourage you:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze,” Exodus 25:31-32
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29.