Let’s be honest; the screen time with our phones and other electronics has skyrocketed through the roof since the pandemic began.
Who’s to blame? You’re telling me it’s unsafe to go to work, and there is a show explaining the scandals and crimes of an underground tiger industry happening at the same time — how could I not spend the next six hours on my couch while orange and black strips light up my dim living room? And while the Tiger King phenomena occurred last year, binge-watching and media consumption have presented their issues for the Christian during this technological revolution.
Our curiosity can be easily satisfied with a new tv show, album, google search, Tik-Tok influencer, tweet with a political point to be made, and research done for us by a news network. We satiate the instant gratification provided by our mobile computers in our pockets, and we don’t think twice about it.
In all seriousness (and partly jest), I’ll ask you my favorite Christianese prompt: How are you doing? How are you really doing with all of this?
I think it’s effortless to point fingers at a younger generation when it comes to media consumption. “You and your TikToks,” and joke about how teens cannot survive without wi-fi. It’s not as if Fox News is your morning podcast and late-night lullaby. Or do the Twitter notifications on your iPhone update you on whatever is trending at the moment? Whether news or entertainment (which I guess you could include news in entertainment), there is an overwhelming flood of information and messages our minds are interpreting… and we are changing because of that.
While I don’t believe anybody would disagree with the statement that too much media consumption is a bad thing, we just kinda brush off our screen time statistics with acknowledgment. It’s like how a majority of Christianity would say that porn is immoral to watch, yet, 57 percent of pastors and 64 percent of youth pastors admit having consistent interaction with it.
Let me be clear; I’m not trying to vilify our Church leadership; I’m trying to make the point that thinking something is immoral or unhealthy does not provide mastery and victory over a problem. You need something more substantial.
Mastery and victory come from the work Jesus has done and is continuing in you. While our relationship with media and entertainment should remain transactional, our relationship with King Jesus should be transformational. My fear with our culture is that we’ve swapped the intention of these two relationships. When we invest time into media, we are supposed to receive something in return: a moment of entertainment, self-reflection, new information, a presentation of a worldview. When we invest time with Jesus we are supposed to be changed:
- A renewing of our minds
- Healing of trauma
- Freedom from practiced sin
- Love for our neighbors
Yet, we tend to imitate our favorite influencer and receive our get-out-of-hell card from Jesus.
As I was going through my Instagram stories (how ironic, I know), a friend posted a tweet that provoked good debate amongst my peers. It read something to the effect of…
“Dear Christian, If your favorite news outlet makes it more difficult for you to love your neighbor and enemy (regardless of partisan affiliation), it is pushing you away from Jesus and the kingdom of God.”
I’m not opposed to social media and secular films. I think they are powerful tools to aid us in navigating culture. However, I am opposed to mindless consumption that attempts to hinder our transformation into Christ-likeness.
One of my all-time favorite quotes from a well-known pastor is, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
Do your screen-time minutes cast shadows on the moments you fellowship with Jesus?
Maybe the Spirit’s conviction is the notification you need to respond to. You have the freedom to be transformed by him.
His love, safety, worldview, message, political ideas, and responses to criticism… be transformed by them.
On the other hand, if you are not equipped with a Jesus-like posture or tend to be lackadaisical about what you consume, you will be transformed by the world’s images, tweets, and philosophy. And, without even knowing it, you may stand in opposition to the heart of God.
Come to Him. Rest in Him. Be transformed by Him. Spend time with Him.
He is so excited to hear about your day and share His heart with you.
Nathaniel Arroyo is a poet, photographer, and coffee aficionado located in Spokane, Washington. Being from Chicago, IL, he has a passion for the Church’s engagement with culture through mediums of art, community, and rich theology. He attended Moody Bible Institute – Spokane and studied Biblical Exposition.