I just completed a full season of Master Chef on Hulu. In about a week. Talk about obsession! I felt sort of like an alcoholic. “I promise, just one more drink.” and “I can’t have a drink until noon. That proves that I’m not an alcoholic, because alcoholics drink before noon.” “I can’t watch Master Chef until nap time, not in the morning. That would be obsession for me to watch it when I wake up.” I would get up in the morning and think, “what do I have to do today so that I can watch as much Master Chef as possible.” I had a dream about being a Master Chef. I started trying to chop fast like one and cut my finger tip off. Literally, off. I am still recovering.
And not that it is wrong to watch TV, or to spend your time doing something other than reading the Bible and praying. There is freedom and liberty, of course. We don’t live under condemnation, we have been freed from the Law and from guilt. So it’s not wrong to have activities in my life and spend time doing things I enjoy. In fact, it is a good thing. God gives us interests and desires and passions and talents. We should do things we love for His glory and our joy. But I am really good at using these true and valid points to justify any behavior. Even though I was neglecting spiritual things to feed my flesh, I was justifying it in a way that really let me off the hook. And let me say, just to be clear, it was NOT WRONG for me to watch those episodes. It wasn’t even wrong for me to watch 3 per night (shorter than a movie? Less time than most Americans watch TV each night? But we’re not comparing people to people here, are we….) However, for me, it included neglect of spiritual things. It is my number one desire to commit myself, fully, passionately, whole heartedly to Jesus. But if I were to be honest, the cares of this world can at times choke out the spiritual seed in my daily life.
The truth is, if I want to know Him, really know Him, I need to spend time with Him. If I were to spend 6 nights out of 7 away from my husband, eventually there would be degeneration in our relationship. I have the freedom in a marriage to not spend every free moment with my husband. But I also have the freedom to spend it with him. If I want to know him, to know all about him, his likes and his dislikes, and to progress in our relationship, I have to sacrifice in another area to free up my nights to spend by his side.
So it is with Jesus. We are His Bride and so the same thing applies. While I may be permitted and have freedom to spend my time doing other things, I know that if I really love Him, I won’t give Him a measly 2% of my time. I really love chef TV shows. I really love cooking competition. So I give it my time. I want to really love God, as commanded, with all my heart, all my soul, and with all my might. I can’t do that without some sacrifice. Without some energy expenditure.
Proverbs 8 speaks of Wisdom, saying, “wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you desire cannot compare with her.” And again, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me… my fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver…. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” (Proverbs 8:11, 17, 19, 34)
To seek diligently requires a cessation of seeking other things. To watch daily and to wait, requires focus and one to pay attention. You will necessarily neglect some other things in your life. But the goal is to get something that is better than anything else, anyway! Better than chef TV, better than novels, better than jewels, better than fine gold!
In Acts 8, Peter shares the Gospel with the Ethiopian Eunuch, baptizes him, and then Peter gets transported to another town. Where he rests and relaxes because he has freedom in Christ to do so. No, he “preached the gospel to all the towns”. Not that it would have been wrong for him to chill after doing some Gospel work. But he has a passion and a drive for Jesus, for the Gospel, for men to be saved. He works and sacrifices and neglects other things for this better thing.
Matthew 11, same thing. “When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.” (Matthew 11:1) Jesus just taught a class to twelve people. He doesn’t rest from His work because he already checked off his spiritual thing for the day. He continues, preaching and teaching the Gospel. Because that is what He came to do: seek and save sinners, bring the lost home, show people the Father. “But that’s Jesus,” you say. Well, don’t you want to be like Jesus? Isn’t that the goal?
Let me make sure to clarify again. I am not saying you shouldn’t ever watch TV, movies, read novels, go rock climbing, scrapbook, play sports, play video games (well…), work out, decorate your home, spend time in the internet or phone, etc. I will most definitely be watching the next season of Master Chef. But I am saying, check yourself. Make sure that you are not neglecting the Best Thing for a lot of little things that in the end, won’t reward and definitely won’t satisfy. Not like Jesus does.