When Distraction Becomes Idolatry

Entertainment can be – and is for many – idolatry.

Years ago, I had a dream to write, but I never seemed to have the time. I was frustrated because I knew God had given me a gift and that things were inside my heart that needed expression, but getting them out seemed impossible because of the limited time I had.

One day, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, How much time do you spend watching TV every week?

I didn’t know, but I knew I watched every day. I began to take note of my habits.

My daily routine was that, after working hard, I would come home tired, wanting only rest and peace. I habitually turned on the TV while I made myself something to eat. Then I would sit in front of the tube to eat. But I stayed there, switching channels until bedtime. On weekends, I watched sports or old movies.

After approximating the time I spent being entertained, I saw that I had averaged about 30 or more hours weekly. When I realized it, I sensed the Lord saying, That’s three-quarters of a full-time job, and you say you don’t have time to write.

I was stunned to see entertainment from that perspective. I was wasting my life! How many years had I wasted? Too many! Suddenly I saw TV – which was my most prominent distraction – as my enemy, and turned it off. I began writing, instead. Since I had no computer at that time, I wrote in thick spiral notebooks, and after a few months of working hard, I had the first draft of a novel.

I say this, because I was blind to the fact that I actually had plenty of time to do what I believed the Lord had called me to do. And I know He has put in every person giftings that He wants to benefit the kingdom of God.

Like the people of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we can either use His gifts for His glory or bury them under distraction such as entertainment, which can manifest as video games, cable TV, social media, movies, Internet surfing and the like.

When the things of the world distract us from time with God, they become idols that feed our flesh until we become captives, reviving the old self that was crucified with Christ. Entertainment is a huge idol in first-world countries. I suspect many believers have let entertainment steal their gifts from God, and justified it by the need for peace and rest – which He freely offers in His presence.

The question each Christian ought to ask is: Has entertainment – or some other distraction – become idolatry in my life?

If so, the good thing you are seeking through it in small measure, your Father offers abundantly through the fruit of the Spirit in His presence.

Turn to Him for your needs, instead of to distractions.

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