Donald Whitney, in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life writes, “Watching television is so much easier than choosing a good book, reading words, creating your own mental images, and relating it to your life. Television decides for you what will be presented, speaks the words to you, shows you its own images, and tells you what impact it wants to have on your life, if any. Books are much too demanding for the modern mind” (p229).
There is no denying the fact that we live in a visually stimulated period of history. Technology has allowed us to view programming of all kinds in our cars, on our phones, in our offices, and anywhere else we have internet capability. It is an incredible thought to understand what is available to view literally at our fingertips.
However, one of the downfalls that come with this technology is that the more images we view, the less our imaginations are employed. Whitney is correct in pointing out the fact that TV (and its related media) decides for us not just what we see, but even what we should think and feel about what we see. I do not think it is a stretch to state that this is one of the reasons why a large majority of young children, adolescents, and even some adults, do not like to read. Reading takes too much time, effort, and brain-sweat. The trend today is that people do not want to think, but just merely want to be amused. “Why read a good novel when I can just watch the movie?”
I would like to challenge all people, but Christians in particular, to consider reading more, and watching less. It takes discipline to read because we must devote time to it, we must engage our minds and imaginations, and we must strive to finish the book.
Too many Christians say that they do not have enough time during the day to read their Bibles. And yet between TV time, internet time, and time with other portable devices, there no doubt could easily be time available during each day to read the Bible. Remember, God gives everyone the same amount of time each day to accomplish everything He wants them to. It is a matter of prioritizing our time in order to accomplish what God wants.
While reading the Bible is of utmost importance, our reading should also include other things besides the Scriptures. There is a multitude of good Christian literature available which is spiritually challenging and encouraging. I would challenge any Christian to determine to read at least one good Christian book per year for the purpose of spiritual growth. Ask your pastor for some suggestions, or I would be glad to make some recommendations, too.
Also, determine to read good secular literature as well. Classic literature can stimulate the imagination, broaden the vocabulary, and be very enjoyable. Books on various subjects of science, history, etc. can be very helpful as well. Perhaps add one secular work to your reading list to build your mind.
All Christians should be readers. They should read their Bibles, but also good pieces of literature as well. The value of reading is exponentially higher than that of watching TV or any movie. If you do not like to read, learn to discipline yourself to read for the purpose of godliness, and for the glory of God.