My daughter Hannah is a typcial busy teenager--usually much too busy for her poor old frumpy dad, but when she was just a wee one, we were constant companions. I took her everywhere; maybe I simply enjoyed showing her off. Anyway, on this particular day, my wife sent us out for a few items, so we chose to pop into a smaller neighborhood market where parking didn't require a long hike through the lower forty. I liked this store, too, for there was a delightful Christian teenager named Christie behind the register who always made a fuss over my Hannah.
While paying for the purchases, Christie asked, "Would you mind if I gave Hannah a quarter for a treat?" Christie lead Hannah to an odd looking vending machine situated near the entrance of the grocery store. It was a boxy looking contraption with a front of clear Plexiglas; the inside of the machine was filled to overflowing with colorful plastic eggs and each "egg" contained a little toy surprise. A rather garish plastic chicken roosted above the great pile of eggs. The procedure was simple enough: Two bits and a twist of the crank caused the plastic hen to spin and squawk while sending one of her eggs tumbling down the chute. Hannah thought it all perfectly delightful as she clutched her prize. "Ask your daddy to open the egg when you get home," Christie instructed, "and you will find a little toy inside!"
The little toy happened to be a plastic "gold" coin nestled inside the egg. Hannah squealed with joy as she ran off to play with her new treasure. I was a bit befuddled by this--how a simple doodad amidst her room full of electronic toys, books, games, and stuffed animals could bring such pleasure was beyond my reasoning.
And then the irony struck me. This fake plastic coin, utterly worthless, had been gotten for the price of a real coin. It had taken a genuine, bona-fide, official, United States government minted, Yankee Doodle Dandy, red white, and blue, stars and stripes forever twenty-five cent piece to purchase this fraudulent farthing molded in some steamy Asian sweat shop! What irony! We had exchanged the real McCoy for a copy! An imitation! A hoax! A lousy, worthless hoax!
Now, in truth, I do not normally become unglued over the loss of a quarter. A quarter is, after all, just a quarter and a quarter doesn't buy very much these days. But there is a lesson in this: How often do we, as a people born of the grace of God, trade His good gifts for Satan's cheap imitations? How often do we exchange what is good for what is not? Let us explore this idea for just a bit.
One of the most lavish blessings granted to us is the gift of time. Time is that elusive commodity appreciated most after it is nearly spent. We can neither create time nor can it be purchased or replaced. Every moment comes gift wrapped from Heaven and each person's measure of time is ordained by God. How we use this gift is up to us, but as with any gift, the Giver requires a responsible accounting. There is time to read. Time to study. Time to think. Time to work. Time to play. Time to worship. Time to love. Time to laugh. Time to fellowship. Time to minister. Time to pray. There are many ways in which our spending of time can edify and satisfy while bringing honor to Him, yet too often we recklessly exchange time on unmitigated nonsense of the worst kind.
So what about the average American's five hour daily viewing habit? Five hours of television every day!
Think about it: if television was "a vast wasteland" in the 1950's, it must surely be a bubbling cesspool today. The vast majority of programming is simply unfit for family consumption. And five hour daily doses of televised toxin is nonsense of the worst kind.
That's show business, but it isn't God's business. And if we are spending five hours a night in front of the television, then we stand guilty of squandering this diminishing asset and one of God's greatest gifts. King David wrote, "I will set nothing wicked before my eyes... (Psalms 101: 3)" and continues by calling for a commitment to holy living. Holy living and network television are simply not compatible. And if there is anyone who thinks MTV is worth an hour of life, I have a magnificent plastic coin collection for sale.
Dr. Michael Blunk is a staff writer for an apologetics ministry and serves full time as a chaplain with Wayside Christian Mission. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org