I like this video because it got me thinking about how we spend our time. I started researching and I found something that boggled my mind so bad I just had to write about it. In 2009 the Nielsen rating system found that the average American was watching almost 5 hours of television per day. Um ok wait a second. When they say that is the average, that means about half of us are watching MORE that that! I was trying to wrap my mind around what that actually means, so as usual (since I am an engineer at heart) I started doing some calculations. Think of this scenario: Let’s say we moved all of our TV watching to the end of the year. If you assume that we had to sleep 8 hours each night it would mean that for the last 112 days of every year we would do nothing but watch TV and sleep. Even more disturbing is that by the end of an 80 year life span, it would accumulate to more than 24 years of doing nothing but watching TV and sleeping! I mean DAAAANNNNGGGG. How is this even possible? It is like choosing to get a lobotomy for a third of your waking life. Can you even imagine what could be done with that much time?
Wasting time is something that has come up for me and Melissa more than once and it is something we have to be intentional about keeping in check. Sometimes we just feel tired and it seems like a great way to relax at the end of the day. Or sometimes there are particular shows that are so entertaining we don’t want to miss any of them. I am not saying that we should never watch TV, but when we are wasting such a huge chunk of our lives watching TV instead of spending time with *real* people and actually investing in relationships…it is heartbreaking to God. What it says is that being entertained, or “relaxing” after work is more important than living and loving as Christ did. Because it can be a struggle for us to choose the better option and because we have felt so convicted in this area, we have decided to take action by choosing not to get TV service so that the temptation is removed. Although we have taken action to address the area of time management in our lives, we certainly by no means use all our time perfectly/wisely but we are truly trying to get better at it.
We are living in a culture where isolation is the norm, and I think TV is one of isolation’s greatest allies. It is dangerous because it makes us feel like we are connected, but there is no real interaction of any kind. It is like eating Styrofoam that is flavored like a thanksgiving dinner. You feel full and satisfied up until the moment you die. In fact, I bet a lot of people know more about the characters on their favorite TV shows than they do about their own family or “friends.” We need to genuinely live life together as God called us to! Read through the Bible and see for yourself that it is NONSENSE unless we have some genuine relationships and community as a context. I am afraid that entertainment like TV, video games, facebook, etc. is an enormous hindrance to the kind of connected fellowship that God longs for his people to have with Him and with one another.
What if we replaced those 5 hours of TV watching a day with getting to really know a neighbor or coworker? Or volunteering our time to those who desperately need help or companionship…like volunteering at the local homeless shelter, visiting sick patients in the hospital, or writing politicians to encourage them to create legislation to fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. Or what if we actually got to know our own family members and asked how they’re really doing and what they’ve been struggling with lately. Or most importantly, spending time with and intimately getting to know the Creator of the universe who longs to know us personally and spend more than 5 minutes with us each day. The truth is that we really could make a difference in this world and truly change lives with our time like the video says, but we’re choosing not to because we’d rather zone out and be entertained than put in the effort it requires to love people tangibly. And ironically, even though the latter takes far more work and sacrifice, when you truly experience it…you realize it is FAR better than the former.
Not only are we missing out on experiencing the blessings of intimacy with one another/God and the joy that comes with loving and serving others, we are all going to stand before God one day and give an account of how we used what He gave us. Remember the story of the “talents”? You can read it in Matthew 25, but I will just say that God was rightfully angry with the guy who did nothing with what was given to him. If I have to tell God that I used 24 of the years he gave me to veg, well it is going to be more than a little embarrassing. It would be devastating. Because maybe God will go on to show me all that He had planned and hoped I would accomplish and the lives I would have affected if I had chosen to invest my time in eternal things rather than squandering it. Because the truth is…there are only two things that will last forever – God and people.