This week's "thought" comes from A. W. Tozer -- a man who spoke as a prophetic voice to the culture and church of his day. The thought presented below would definitely fall into that category. It comes to you from his book "The Root of the Righteous," and as with so many of the thoughts I send your way, I send it because I feel it is helpful and insightful. Although it was written the year before I was born (1955) it is still, in so many ways, a word that can challenge us to avoid something that is or can be a very real danger for many. It deals with the modern love for entertainment. Enjoy.
"A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside. Excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man.
If this is true (and I believe it is) then the present inordinate attachment to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline... He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.
Schleiermacher held that the feeling of dependence lies at the root of all religious worship, and that however high the spiritual life might rise, it must always begin with a deep sense of need which only God can satisfy. If this sense of need and a feeling of dependence are at the root of natural religion it is not hard to see why the great god Entertainment is so ardently worshipped by so many. For there are millions who cannot live without amusement; life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable. They look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics as an addict looks to his daily shot of heroin. Without them they could not summon courage to face existence.
No one with common human feeling will object to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such things, if used with discretion, may be a blessing along the way. That is one thing. But the all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which men live is definitely something else again.
The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin. The growth of the amusement sector of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent -- a threat to the souls of modern men."
Obviously in an entertainment-driven culture like ours, opinions will be mixed in regard to his words. But when one considers there is so much that God calls us as His people to be doing -- in regard to time spent communing with Him in prayer / or serving, loving and investing in others / or growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus / or being still and silent before Him in worshipful contemplation / or reaching out to others with the Gospel / or "making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15) -- it becomes hard to justify the exorbitant amount of time many Christ-followers spend in front of a TV (and I say this as one who's conscience has sometimes been pricked in this regard).
Tozer is right again when he adds further on in the chapter that in addition to being a relief for boredom and a psychological narcotic, the reason the Church has historically stood against entertainment is that it recognized it for what it often has been: "a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, and a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability."
The issue of seeking to be entertained as opposed to rejecting the temptation to be entertained, is not (in most cases) an issue of flagrant "sin." Rather, its a matter of wise stewardship: "How could I better use this same segment of time God has given to me to make a difference in someone's life and for eternity?"
Instead of getting up after a few hours in front of the TV having done nothing, learned nothing, changed nothing and gained nothing, how could I do something, learn something, change something or help someone gain something that would be helpful for them and of eternal significance?
With prayers that the TV won't drown out the still small whisper of God in our conscience.