My faithful brother in Christ (and cousin in law), Marshall Segal, teacher, writer, and editor at Desiring God, and member of Cities Church in Minneapolis, wrote a sobering meditation on how entertainment deprives the soul. I encourage you to read it or listen to it.
Here are 3 reflections on this article.
First, I’m alarmed at how much technology in general, and the mobility of my laptop and smart phone in particular, are shaping my soul and depriving levels of depth. I want to know and enjoy and embody Jesus. I want to go deeper in that knowledge, joy, and experience in and with him. This means I need to consider afresh and pay attention to how I use this mobile technology to occupy my mind.
Secondly, Marshall effectively communicates the importance and foundational nature words are to the Christian life because of the word inscripturate and the word incarnate:
Should we spend much time worrying about how much we watch and how little we read?
Yes, because the fullest Christian life is firmly anchored in words and sentences and paragraphs. When God revealed himself to his chosen people, of all the infinite ways he could have done so, he chose to unveil himself with words. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2). God didn’t build a gallery or start a YouTube channel, he wrote a Book (2 Timothy 3:16). “In the beginning was the Word. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). From the beginning, God has put the Word, his Son, at the center of reality, and, in doing so, he has given words unusual power and importance in anticipating, explaining, and celebrating him.
I’m struck not only by the importance of reading God’s words for life change and transformation, but by the importance of the church. Surely the Bible precedes and animates the church in the Spirit’s power. But Christians do not grow by reading but more precisely by meditating on God’s words. Reading is certainly a way to do it. But faith also comes by hearing, and this hearing is often through the voice of another person (Romans 10:14-17). Furthermore, the Word became flesh. Today, Christ is communicated both infallibly in the Scripture and experientially in his body, the church. The church knows, enjoys, and obeys Jesus so that they explain, enjoy, and embody Jesus faithfully to one another, their neighbors, and the nations. This is not a contradiction of Segal’s comments but an extension of them from the Bible to the church to the reader/hearer.
Thirdly, Marshall gets at my second point and also spurred me onto action. He asks us to examine our entertainment habits and consider our ways to cultivate a spiritual mindset.
What, if any, of your entertainment habits need to be curbed or redirected for the sake of your soul? What are ways you are seeking to cultivate the spiritual gift of your mind — slower Bible study or memorization, reading substantive books, meaningful conversation with friends, more time in unhurried reflection and meditation?
Notice Marshall mentions meaningful conversation with friends as a means of cultivating the spiritual gift of the mind. That’s what church’s do. They are friends who converse and share life and share Jesus such that the way I think changes. Just yesterday and today I was strengthened and shifted by my kids, three convos with different pastors, a call with the Crete Collective community, a meal with a fellow member, a conversation with my secretary, one of my fellow pastors teaching us about the work of Christ for 11am Bible study, a discussion on ecclesiology with my pastoral interns, dinner with family and a few church families, Wednesday evening Bible study, and a conversation with a sister from the church about following Christ at work. In these conversations there has been ample opportunity to think, consider God and Scripture and Christ, and pray on my own and with others. Praise God!
The action Segal spurred me to was to write this reflection. Tonight I’ve been burdened to write something in an effort to write daily (after being exhorted once again by Seth Godin). Here’s my first day effort and I pray I continue to write and cultivate the spiritual gift of my mind.