I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth.
When I say that, I don’t mean it literally—though I do prefer sweet food to salty. My sweet tooth is for a different sort of food. It’s for the food of entertainment. It usually takes the form of TV or movies or music or video games or YouTube videos or even many kinds of novels and blogs and Wikipedia articles—anything that gives me a quick fix for boredom with practically no effort required on my part. Now, in my case, I’m usually a sucker for Internet entertainment, though I do dabble in movies. (My interest in video games had ended by the time I finished my sophomore year of college.)
Entertainment is quick, easy, and addictive.
Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Have you ever gone for an entire day eating nothing but junk food or fast food? I avoid these kinds of food a lot more now than I did a few years back. For one thing, I’m more health conscious. I know that if I want to remain fit and healthy, I need to maintain a balanced diet. For another thing, I also know what it feels like to eat a lot of bad food. I wake up the next day feeling like crap. It’s not so much a feeling of nausea as a general feeling of being unwell; my body knows that something isn’t right, that I’ve been substituting good healthy meals with food that is quick, cheap, tasty, and terrible for me.
Junk food (and fast food) is like food entertainment. It takes no effort to prepare, is easy to eat, and satisfies your hunger cravings. And truth be told, there’s nothing wrong with it per se. It’s not a sin to eat a Twinkie. But if your every meal consists of a box of Twinkies, we’ve got a problem.
The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
You can spend hours of your free time on entertainment—TV or the Internet or video games or whatever. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things per se, depending on the content. The problem comes when you take in too much of them.
You consume information a lot like you consume food, though in this case it’s your mind doing the consuming, not your body. So naturally, the quality of “food” your mind consumes will determine its health. I find that if I spend hours entertaining myself, I begin to feel unwell. It’s almost exactly the same feeling that I get when I substitute junk food for healthy food. And it’s a feeling that doesn’t go away easily. Even if I spend the rest of the day doing productive things or studying my Bible, I still feel crappy until I wake up the next morning.
Here’s where the law fails us as Christians: there’s no good way to say that spending X hours on entertainment is wrong while spending Y hours is okay. You can’t just invent new laws out of thin air declaring TV watching to be immoral while saying that YouTube is okay. That’s called legalism, and it’s an attempt to usurp God’s place as the one who determines what’s good and bad for us.
Maybe a more helpful way of looking at the issue of entertainment is to think about it the way we think about our diet. It’s not wrong to eat a Cadbury Creme Egg. But if Cadbury Creme Eggs are the bulk of your diet, don’t be surprised if you feel crappy all the time. Don’t be surprised if you feel depressed and lethargic and unable to focus. Don’t be surprised if your body begins to fall apart. Don’t be surprised if you begin to crave food that’s bad for you and lose your ability to enjoy food that’s good for you.
If you indulge in entertainment for hours every day, don’t be surprised if you feel crappy all the time. Don’t be surprised if you feel depressed and lethargic and unable to focus. Don’t be surprised if your spiritual life—your relationship with God—begins to fall apart. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving more and more entertainment while the Bible seems dull and boring.
My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
You need healthy food. If you’re going to watch movies, you need to watch ones that challenge your mind. You need to read good books, classics that have stood the test of time. And above all, you need the true food that comes down from heaven. You need Jesus Christ. And if you want him, you can find him in the Word of God, the Bible. You can abide in him by preoccupying yourself with the Bible, with prayer, with time spent helping and encouraging and learning from other disciples of Jesus Christ.
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
—1 Peter 2:2–3
When you do these things, you’ll find your energy returning. You’ll find a closer relationship with God. You’ll find yourself developing a taste for what’s good.
Feed your body well, but don’t neglect to feed your soul. You need to keep a close watch on your spiritual diet.
After all, you are what you eat.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.