I read a statistic recently that really jumped out at me. Americans on average spend about 140 hours each month in front of the TV. Now I knew it was high but had no idea it was that high. (There are 168 hours in a week!)
My heart really sunk when a couple of days later I read another article about how much time do we spend in God’s word. Can it even be counted in hours for the week? or month? We are jammed packed with one minute devotionals. But do we spend anytime reading Gods actual word, and pondering it, studying it.
It hit me last week how far we have strayed from God’s actual word. On Sunday our worship leader read the scripture from “The Message” translation (interpretation) of the Bible. My wife turned to me and stated: “why do we need to recite an interpretation of God’s word when we have God’s actual word!” I must say it was a brilliant observation, one I think we quite often overlook. We spend so much time and money on interpretations, and none in God’s literal word.
So getting back on track, you have totaled up your hours for the week, how many of those are from God’s literal word? (I would consider it literal if it is a NASB, ESV, NKJV,l KJV, or RSV translation, see chart below.)
So can we still count it in hours? So we could add Church to boost our total. How many hours? Did you attend this week? How much time in the service was spent in God’s word? I would say 15 minutes is probably the average. We could also include Bible Studies that we are involved in throughout the week but then again, how many of those study the Bible directly versus other books or videos that are interpretations of God’s word? It really amazes me how far we will go to not read God’s Word. It is almost like we are bending over backwards to not read it, it’s just too much work. (Let someone else do the heavy lifting and tell me what it says.) (Hold that thought, I’ll come back to it…)
I started this off by mentioning the TV and the 140 hours the average American spends in front of it. That’s a lot of time, in actual hours as well as a percentage of your week/month. I also mentioned Idol in the title of this article. A lot of us when we think of Idols, we think of a small/large stone statue that ancient people worshiped to as a symbol of their god(s). But it is really more than that, “worshiping idols” is really what you give your heart to, what is the #1 thing in your life, there can only be one #1. We can measure this by what you spend your time, thoughts, and money/resources on. Also, how we position things in our homes, offices, etc. (Have you ever noticed how the TV takes the center, most prominent, spot in each room of our houses?)
So in modern times idols look a lot different. Instead of a stone statue you have TV’s, computers, our bodies (fashion, fitness, sex), money/wealth, careers/work, our kids and even our houses. I would go as far as to say we spend 80% of our time, thoughts, and resources on the above mentioned items. Where does God and studying His word fall? We have things somewhat backwards in our Christian lives. We are supposed to be different than this world.
Romans 12:2 – (NASB)
a. Romans 12:2 Or age
b. Romans 12:2 Or approve
c. Romans 12:2 Or well-pleasing
Living in it but not of it. How could any non-christian tell? If I said to you, spend two hours a day reading God’s word and praying. What would be your gut reaction? You would probably say “I don’t have that kind of time. (That was my initial response.) Where would I find that kind of time?” To which I might respond how about the list above (TV, computer, house, fitness, shopping)? You see 2 hours is only 8% of your day. If you take out sleep time it is 12.5% of your day and if you take out work hours as well, it is 25% of your remaining day. 8%/12.5%/25% how important is God in your life? You can not have two masters. What are you putting first in your life?
I think this lack of time spent in God’s word, along with the pervasive deception of today, and the number of “distractions” we are entertaining is precisely why our age seems so different from when Jesus walked the earth.
Back then, they had it flipped, they spent at least two hours a day studying God’s word. Most of their children learned to read from the Bible (OT). There was not the “I can’t believe my eye” types of technology that has blurred the line between fantasy and reality. So you had a more convicted belief in things you saw and heard. And finally, they weren’t as “distracted to the extreme”. We have so many activities around us that you could fill your day a hundred times over. Think of all the things that fill your day? How do they rate verse God in your life?
I am not preaching here, I have been and still am struggling with these priorities. God placed these thoughts on my heart and prompted me to share them. The key I have found is to identify “idols” in your life and give them over to the Lord. Ask Him to help you move away from the idols of this world and back to Him. Christ asked us to live a life of total surrender to Him and He would provide everything we need, literally. We need to surrender each of the strongholds we have been guarding in this world as we move to the life Christ called us to lead…
In conclusion, I think we all as Christians need to assess the lives we are living. At a high level, is there any difference between us and this world we live in. Are we set apart or indistinguishable from? Zooming in, what are our priorities and how does our time, thought, and resources reflect that? Are they out of whack? The hole in our lives we are trying to fill with all this-worldly stuff and activity, is a hole only Jesus Christ can fill. He is calling us to fully surrender our lives to Him. Everything is possible with God. We need to surrender fully and get out of His way as He works miracles and wonders through us, all along filling our lives with a peace and fulfillment we can just barely imagine. He is where we should turn to be refreshed and recharged, not our idols: TV, computers, and exotic vacations.
God calls us, beckons us, to come and find rest. Slow down, focus on what is truly eternal. Time is short.
Maranatha, Lord come quickly!
In Romans 10 Paul lays out how salvation is open to all, Jew and Gentile. He writes:
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:4-5
What he is saying is now it is not about works or how closely to a “T” you follow the law. But that it is through God’s gift of grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is really that simple, and yet a hard step for some of us.
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
Christ is the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14), through faith in Him you will be saved. It is the only “works” that God requires for eternal salvation.