Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Whitefield, Godliness and Your Television

I am re-reading Dallimore’s masterpiece, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival. The first time I read this work, it was almost too much for me. My takes on evangelism, godliness, sacrifice, endurance, ministry, work and faith were all shattered.

Half way through volume one I am newly impressed with the godliness of Whitefield and those who laboured with him. Page after page speaks of nights spent in prayer, seasons of almost tangible closeness to God and their hard striving after true fellowship with the real God. They trained for godliness and perhaps none so much as George Whitefield.

I get the feeling he would not have watched a lot of television.

I watched some DVD’s the other night. I was excited to do so. I was “ready” for a break and some entertainment. (I generally only “get” to watch something 2 or 3 nights a week.) But the day after brought a tough realization. Not only had I wasted a lot of time, but I had trained my mind for sensuality.

Maybe nobody else experiences this when they watch television, but I find that its promise of smooth, effortless happiness is deceptive. Rarely does TV keep its promise. And if it does, it tends to add two other things.

First, there is the obvious slipping in of sin that almost without exception accompanies anything good we might watch. Adultery is justified, immorality exalted, the Lord’s name used vainly and a host of other sins all nicely packaged in humour or mystery or a great story. Rarely does the devil force-feed sin.

Secondly, the promise of pleasure orients my heart to look for the same from the rest of life. My TV may turn off, but my desires for effortless happiness have been awakened. I want the rest of life to be like TV – flip the channel or switch the DVD if it’s boring or not satisfying and keep on doing so until I find that happiness.

So, I brought the DVD’s back to my friend and didn’t watch the TV last night.

And I am praying that my gracious God would not only forgive me for hours of life wasted in front of that box, but would enable me to train for godliness like never before.