You know that warm feeling after you spend time with God? A bit of prayer, a bit of Bible reading (plus a lot of trying to re-focus back on the prayer and the Bible reading). But then you get the sweet satisfaction of holy accomplishment?
It makes you feel lighter, more spiritual, somewhat righteous.
And then you ask yourself, “Why don’t I do this more?”
Well. I don’t do it more because of Netflix.
According to Revelations 17:5, Netflix is, “The great mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”
Maybe I exaggerate a little.
But in the Jesus vs. Netflix battle, it seems like Netflix is winning my time and attention!
When television arrived back in the 1950’s, a lot of respected pastors called it the Devil’s Box! Yet, 60 years later a study conducted by the Barna Group proved that Christians who practice their faith watch more TV than non-Christians. Church-goers have actually become one of the main audiences that Hollywood is looking to entertain. Movies and TV shows strategise limiting cursing/vulgarity/atheism so they don’t alienate the main consumers (us, Christ-followers). And still, other shows over-do the cursing/vulgarity/atheism… but we still watch them (you know, because we’re non-religious).
I don’t know about you, but I love to be entertained! I watch anything and everything. I love the news, stupid videos on You Tube, three hours of ESPN and lots of Facebooking. I love romantic comedies, super-hero-nerdy-sci-fi movies and even the weird independent cinema that makes no sense whatsoever.
I have spent a full hour browsing through the Netflix gallery just to see what’s available. I have also gone through full seasons of a show in a matter of days (with two kids, a wife and a full-time job to maintain). I have even started watching a show, not really liked the beginning, but kept watching, as if to force myself to get into it… so I could have another show to watch.
If I would invest that much effort into my time with God… my face would probably radiate with the manifest glory from heaven (or at least I would have a couple more bible verses memorised.)
Netflix seems to be winning the battle. And I feel like I’m not alone.
Because I know people who have changed their diets completely based on a Netflix documentary on food. I know others who have taken days off from work so they could finish season 5 of Breaking Bad (worth it!) And I know for sure, that if I am having trouble relating with a new person in church, all I have to do is start taking about what I am currently watching on Netflix, and like a miracle of human connectivity… BOOM! We are best friends forever.
So how does Jesus compete against all the noise and the distractions? How are we able to turn down the entertainment in order to turn up the awe and the hunger?
I think we’re desperate to be inspired. We want out of our consuming, selfish, all-about-me prisons, so we wander off in entertainment looking for a purpose. Our real life stories are lost in the dullness of every day routine. Our religion has become mundane and easy to figure out. So our hearts are in a legitimate search for the story.
It’s why we turn to Netflix.
However, Jesus was and is the ultimate entertainment. Yes, he is Savior, Servant, King, Lion, God, Lord, but he was also a masterful storyteller. He brought the deepest revelations and turned them into visual stories about wandering sheep, ungrateful sons and bad farming.
Not only was he a genius with his words, he was also creative with his miracles. He was challenging to the establishment. He was provocative with his decisions. And it was impossible to fit him into a box of understanding and rational. Still is. He is literally untamable, radically spontaneous and comfortable with making us uncomfortable.
He is far and away the greatest movie, story, mystery, drama, comedy, thriller that ever was.
And it’s time to tune in.
In his glorious book Dangerous Wonder, Mike Yaconelli wrote, “I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.”
Yes, it’s great to watch movies, it’s just better to live a life that could become one. It’s ok to be content consumers, it’s just better to be content creators who become the influencers to a broken generation. There is nothing wrong with amusement, it’s just that we were created for something more than entertainment. And the story of Jesus could be our own story. It was designed to be our story. So we remain hungry for it to become it.
I think Hollywood seems like a legitimate distraction from Christ because we have taken the imagination out of the Gospel. We have lost the wonder of the Good News and reduced it to a set of suggestions for ethical living. And while slumbering in the comforts of Western-Christianity we have forgotten that the Scriptures are dangerous and mysterious. That the Kingdom of God is full of drama and intrigue. That it’s the real life… raw, unedited and weirdly perfect.
Maybe the problem for me is that I have reduced Jesus to something that can be competed with; as if sin, or Netflix, or temptation, could be a match for his person or his love. What would happen if I stopped quantifying my relationship with Him to the measure of how much I pray or read or fast or sing? The truth is that if my Christianity depended on anything but Christ himself, it’s not really Christianity, it’s Carlosanity (and God knows that religion would be the weirdest-cultic-reality-TV-show ever!)
[bctt tweet=”If my Christianity depended on anything but Christ himself, it’s not Christianity”]
“But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand ways and He forgives me and relieves me of my bad habits without talking about them.” The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
Jesus is not contained inside our religious efforts. He is too big, and too wise, and too much of a Friend of Sinners to be limited by that. He won’t stop being who he is because of the things you decided to watch, or do, or say.
But there is a mystery to be discovered. An adventure to be lived. His presence is truly exciting (and available at all times). I have discovered that Jesus is comfortable sitting next to me while I watch Netflix. He’s not intimated by the competition. It’s not even a contest really. While Netflix gets a couple of hours of my attention, Jesus has won my heart eternally.
So no thank you Netflix, I will not watch the next episode. Today I will set my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith and connect with him in the journey of sonship, sacrifice and surrender.
Today I know that God is not waiting for me to get to heaven in order to start my episode one.
Time to hit play.
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—What God has arranged for those who love him. 1 Corinthias 2:9