To borrow from the late author Neil Postman, we are “amusing ourselves to death.” Like Huxley’s “Brave New World”, we are enslaved by our addiction to easy entertainment, and we eagerly give up our Christian liberty in exchange for instant gratification. Our eyes are drawn to worthless things far more easily than the true beauty of the Lord! We are far more likely to look to our phones than to the truth, beauty, and goodness of God’s Word. We are, quite literally, amusing ourselves until death.
We must always remember that the battle against sin is serious. If we trivialize our daily lives with non-stop entertainment, we will never win this battle. Just as faith is an action, just as love is an action, so too is our fight for holiness active.
Jesus warns us in Mark chapter 9: “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:43-48)
Now we are not called to literally dismember ourselves – Jesus is using hyperbole here – but this is the urgency we must have in running the race set before us. So while you may not literally cut your hand off to fight some sin, you are called to fight tooth and nail. For those who are truly struggling and overcome with sin, I would borrow from Jesus’ words here. When sin threatens to totally overcome your life, desperate times call for desperate measures.
If your phone is tempting you to look at ungodly things, or tempting you to sexual immorality, turn it off! Delete that app. Or give up the smartphone entirely. Better to enter heaven with no phone than to be cast into hell with endless sexual idolatry.
If your entertainment holds you captive and keeps you from being present with family and friends, from being present with the Lord, or if it keeps you from properly parenting your children, it is time to give up that entertainment. Fast from social media or turn off the news. Unsubscribe from that streaming service. Better to enter heaven without social media than to be thrown into hell with all the latest information at your fingertips.
These examples may sound extreme, but this is the sort of seriousness with which we need to treat our sin. As Jesus again said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
Brothers and sisters, we are running to obtain God’s promises. And the greatest of those promises, eternal life secured through Christ Jesus – the glory of that promise should outshine all else this earthly life can offer. If we submit ourselves to God’s discipline, life will not be easy for us, but we are guaranteed Christ will carry us across the finish line into that heavenly city.
Image: Rafael, The Transfiguration (1516-1520), detail