The latest Legend of Zelda, or insert your favorite franchise here, is finally here. An excited gamer (we’ll call him Al) rushes to the store to get in line so he can begin the endless hours exploring, fighting, solving, and experiencing a digitally-created, fictional world.
Al’s friend Blake rolls his eyes as he prepares for a 2-mile run, followed by a delicious protein shake in the weight room. The latter two will be clearly visible in a mirror selfie on social media.
The nerd Danny is taken aback by the self-centeredness of the gym rat, and sighs as he stares into empty space wondering how many hours until the next Marvel movie comes out and life has purpose again.
Danny is caught up in a fantasyland that takes him out of the real world, or so his friend Matt thinks. Matt is about to chill on the couch all Saturday because he can’t imagine a single college basketball game happening without him watching it.
The point is, we all tend to judge others for the things they do that we consider wastes of time, unspiritual, or even destructive. Usually, we have others seeing the same types of things in our lives. The truth of the matter is that we all have areas where we should ask whether or not they are taking an inordinate amount of time and spiritual or mental energy.
Regardless of what we enjoy, we need to be quick to recognize when it is taking more of a priority in our lives than our spiritual welfare. Ask yourself the question, “Am I okay foregoing time with the Lord, but not time with this thing?” If I am frustrated when I cannot watch my favorite pro basketball team play, but not alarmed when cultivating of my relationship with the living Christ has fallen through the cracks, I’ve loved something more than Him.
Another good question is, “What do I gravitate towards in my thoughts and conversation?” This is tricky because things like sports and entertainment are attractive subjects of discussion and thought. They are less work and less risky; they don’t really cost us anything. If our natural, lazy tendency is leading us to take the path of least resistance by dwelling on amusements, it may be that we are fueling that by channeling those things into our minds too much.
Giving the world too much place in our hearts is detrimental to our spiritual well-being as well as our effectiveness in God’s kingdom and the lives of others. One of Paul’s companions deserted him because he was “in love with this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). When Christ is not the “main thing” to an overwhelming degree, we do not feel the urgency of knowing Him and making Him known.
Setting it Straight
Once we have recognized that something has taken an inordinate place in our lives, regardless of what it may be, we have to take proactive steps to correct the imbalance of priorities.
Make sure Jesus is what we’re about.
One destructive aspect of being geeks, gym rats, or sports fans is that those things can become our central identity to those around us, and even ourselves. As those who have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), we belong to Christ. We will not be satisfied being about anything other than the One who died for us.
Make being satisfied with God a priority.
In Psalm 90, the Psalm in which Moses considers the shortness of human life in relation to God’s eternity, he prays that God would, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad in You all our days” (Psalm 90:14). If we intentionally find our happiness in God before all else, before we rush to the next thing we like, we prevent those things from robbing Christ of His rightful place in our thinking.
In my own life, I’ve noticed that being zeroed in on anything other than Jesus Christ makes me very me-focused and blinds me from opportunities to serve others. It’s helpful to remind ourselves that, regardless of what we desire, we’re called in Scripture to look not only to our own interests, “but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). We have to take ourselves in hand and tell ourselves that it does not always matter what we want because we’re not supposed to be serving ourselves but others.
We can shake our heads at others all we want because their temptations are so different from ours. But whether you are tempted to live and breath for Star Trek or you worship your body image, whether you can’t stop listening to classic rock or can’t get enough Playstation, nothing in this world deserves to have a very high place in our heart. We can enjoy it, but we must be able to boldly proclaim, “I can live without this, but I cannot live without Him.”