What Grabs Our Attention?

An hour of your time…

By Paul H. Boge

Have we become more fascinated with our screens than we are with Christ?

Watching the FIFA World Cup. Seeing a hockey playoff game. Catching a movie with friends. Checking out the latest episode of a favourite series. Surfing the web. Following a news story. These are some of the fun things to see on a television, cell phone, computer, theater, tablet or any of the other screen options available.

But can screen-time begin to consume us?

We are challenged on at least two fronts—what we watch, and how long we watch it. Statistics vary, but 20 to 34 hours a week have been cited as combined online and TV average weekly usage. On the positive side, watching screens can be an enjoyable, educational, or a spiritual activity. On the negative side it can become an all-consuming time-stealer, like the proverbial frog in an increasingly heated pot. What we’re watching becomes more and more questionable, sometimes even resulting in outright sin like pornography. As singles the challenge can be that much more difficult if there is no one to be accountable to.

So what to do?

C.S. Lewis said “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.”

Viewing (or thinking) about pornography, watching too much TV, or addiction to other forms of escapism are problems in and of themselves, yet they are also a result of a root problem: focusing on things other than Christ.

In John 3:14 Jesus gives us the key to where our focus should be so that He can live His victorious life in us. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”

This is a parallel between Christ’s death on the cross in the New Testament and the bronze serpent that Moses raised in the wilderness in the Old Testament. If a deadly serpent bit any of the children of Israel, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived (Numbers 21:9).

This is our clue that by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) we will be healed of our desire to look elsewhere, and we will become consumed with the strength, compassion and glory of Jesus.

Still, we don’t have a physical bronze serpent or the physical cross to look at, so how do we actually look to Jesus?

If our lives are surrendered to Christ, and if we have genuinely come to the end of ourselves, then spending time on our knees praying, being in the Word, and serving God is the best way to focus on Christ.

As singles, we need to reflect on how we are spending our time and evaluate that against how singles in the Bible spent their time. The Bible says Jesus Himself would often slip away into the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:16). The Apostle Paul calls us to pray without ceasing.

How do we see ourselves? Would we consider ourselves to be men of prayer?

Is it possible that Christ has called us to singleness not to spend countless hours in front of a screen, but rather on our knees with Him?

Satan took Jesus to the top of the temple and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant. But even that was not attractive enough to convince Christ to take His eyes off the Father.

As we find our identity in Christ alone—not in achievements, or marriage status, or bank accounts, or successes, or lack thereof—then we will experience the joy of “Christ in you” and the things of this world will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a great hockey game, a fun movie or catch up on a good YouTube clip. Far from it. But it does mean we need to challenge ourselves to re-evaluate what is attractive to us.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus challenged Peter, James and John, “Could you not watch with me one hour?”

What would our lives look like if we as singles chose to spend an hour a day (or more?) in prayer with our Lord?

PAUL H. BOGE is the author of Father to the Fatherless: The Charles Mulli Story. He’s an engineer who works in project management. He’s single and lives in Winnipeg.