A few weeks ago I was flipping through Netflix instant streaming looking for a new movie or show to watch. I was getting disappointed about the lack of new exciting content and became resigned to the fact I would probably have to start watching an old show.
Then I saw the little thumbnail for the show “24”. Yes, I had heard all the buzz for the many years the show was on television. For whatever reason I never watched an episode. I wondered, should I give it a shot? Yes, I knew it was probably not the all-time best show but I just didn’t see any other good alternatives. I then wondered if the show would be edifying? I knew it wasn’t like reading the Bible but I also figured there were probably worse shows for me to check out.
The reason I was looking for a show to watch is because I try to run 3 miles every morning before work. I am one of those psychotic people who actually enjoy running on a treadmill. My day is off to a good start if, after a while in the Bible and prayer, I watch something on Netflix while pounding it out on the treadmill.
I usually enjoy watching shows from places like: History Channel; Discovery Channel; etc… but I wondered if “24” would be a nice change. I hit play and had mixed feelings about the first episode. My curiosity was piqued enough to give episode #2 a last chance the next day. Episode #2 ended in enough of a cliff-hanger I figured I’d at least see how some of these story lines were going to find resolution.
Three weeks later something happened. I picked up my iPad, opened Netflix and discovered I was on episode 35. What?! How did I get to episode 35 so fast? I started getting so interested in the story lines and in the characters that I couldn’t wait until the next morning to find out what happens next. While lying in bed next to my wife I would put on some headphones and finish out an episode that had started earlier in the day. While working in the garage I would prop up my phone and have an episode running in the background. While going to the bathroom I would…well you get the point. I pulled out my calculator and realized in a very short time period I had just spent 1,505 minutes in the world of 24!
Is this sinful? Not necessarily. Is it bad? Not necessarily. Is it unwise? Not necessarily. One thing, however, made me stop watching 24 in the middle of the 35th episode. Here it is, my fantasy world was hurting my reality.
Edifying books I had previously loved devouring were continuously sitting unread on my night stand while I devoured “24”. New books were being added on top of these half-read books as I wondered where all the time had gone? My three kids were swimming by themselves as I sat next to our little pool with my phone in my hands devouring “24”. They asked me to jump in and join them, my response, “Daddy’s just going to relax by the side of the pool.” a.k.a. “I have better things to do.”
Fantasy Christian Men
I think there are many men like me. I am going to call us, “Fantasy Christian Men.” We love Jesus. We really do. We want to change our world. We want to advance the kingdom of God. We want to fight injustice. We want to be heroes to our wives and children. Unfortunately, however, we are just as good if not better at fantasy than reality.
If you look at our focus, passion, reading, time, thoughts, conversations and strategy you will find many of us are killing it at: Fantasy Football; Basketball, Baseball; Netflix; and Video Games. We are endlessly engaged in things that are rooted in fantasy. I know you will probably say you are forming powerful relationships with people for Christ through your fantasy draft weekend, the chat room from your favorite video game, etc…
Without going into a long argument for reality over fantasy, I will simply share a new principle I’m seeking to live by. Whenever I am confronted with an opportunity to engage in something fantasy I first ask the question, “How is my reality?” Here are some questions I want to continually ask myself: How is my walk with God? Am I growing in the Word of God? How is my prayer life? How is my marriage? Are my wife and I growing closer or colder? How is my relationship with my kids? Have I been an absent dad (even if I was still in the room) or have I been engaged as a dad? How has my reading been? Leaders are readers. Am I growing in wisdom and knowledge from the writings of others? How is my home? Am I procrastinating the to-do list or am I being a good steward of my home?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT saying fantasy stuff is necessarily bad. I am saying, however, fantasy stuff is bad if it hurts your reality. If you’ve taken care of the things that are truly important then it’s perfectly fine to delve into lesser things, but so often we get it all backwards. I had gotten it backwards. Is it backwards for you today?