- Friday, April 09, 2010
Thinking Seriously about Our Free Time
Free time is not a trivial matter. The activities we participate in during our moments of leisure shape our identity.
Thinking seriously about free time means we must resist the temptation to check our minds at the door when we are being entertained. Sometimes I hear fellow believers talking about how much they enjoyed a recent movie that carries a blatantly anti-Christian message. If I ever inquire about a movie's philosophy or teaching, I sometimes receive this reply: "Can't you just enjoy the movie? When I go to the theater, I don't want to think! I just want to take it in."
Such a mindless attitude towards entertainment is devastating for the Christian. If we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, then we must avoid giving Hollywood maximum power to form us into the image of this world. The apostle Paul encourages us to have our minds renewed:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:1-2)
Thinking seriously about our free time means we should carefully monitor the shows that our children watch, too. Television advertising tells our children, at the earliest ages, what they "need" to make them happy. Many of today's cartoons tell children that they need only listen to their heart and believe in themselves in order to succeed in life.
Recently, I sat down with my son to watch an old Disney videotape that had some cartoons from the 1960s. I was horrified to see that one of the cartoons featured Jiminy Cricket singing these words to a catchy melody:
You are a human animal.
You are a special kind of breed.
For you are the only animal who can think, who can reason, who can read!
The only human animal is you, you, you!
Right there in our living room, the television was telling my child he is an animal, and that the only aspect that separates him from animals is his ability to think and reason. What about the mentally handicapped child? What about the elderly woman who loses the ability to read? Are they nothing more than animals? A cute little cricket was making bold statements about humanity that contradict the biblical definition of human worth and dignity. We must be constantly on guard, always thinking seriously about the messages coming from the television.
Structuring Our Free Time to the Glory of God
The New Testament demonstrates a sense of urgency when speaking about the last days. The apostle Paul writes:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)
Paul tells us not to make good use of our time, but to make the best use of our time. His understanding of the present evil age leads him to strong exhortation regarding the way followers of Jesus must manage our time.
Our lives are so short. James reminds us that our life is little more than "a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."
Why then do we fritter so much of our lives away in front of the television screen?
Why do we spend every evening playing or watching sports?
Why do we spend our weekends roaming the shopping malls, looking at more things we do not need?
Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Seeking first the kingdom means we are not seeking after the same things as the pagan world around us: food, drink, and clothing. We must take a good look at our lives.
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