HAVE you ever felt a bit down after you've watched television for a long period of time? I have. Watching a lot of TV can be a little like vegetating, as the expression ``couch potato'' indicates. We sit passively watching an often exciting world go by. In contrast to the bright lights emanating from the box, we may feel our own lives are rather dull. To overcome those TV blues must we throw the television set away? A bit radical, maybe, because obviously there are programs worth watching. Anyway, the problem isn't with the television set itself. How about changing our pattern of thought about watching television?
We can make watching TV the result of intelligent choice rather than an ``easy out'' when we don't feel like thinking or acting. We also can develop productive and active alternatives to sitting down and ``flipping on the dial.''
Why should we be mentally and spiritually active? The Bible says, ``Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.''1 It's spirituality that promotes genuine joy and progress, and spirituality must increasingly be cultivated through a deepening love for God and man and a willingness to look beyond the things of the flesh to the enduring reality of divine Spirit. Unhappiness, moral and intellectual poverty, dissatisfaction with ourselves and with life, depression -- these are the products of spiritual emptiness.
Mental idleness is a dreaming, unguarded state of thought receptive to whatever evil might drift by, whether greed, dissatisfaction, lust, even disease. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ``Floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions, we do what others do, believe what others believe, and say what others say. Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching.''2 Floating along with another's opinions or beliefs, we lose sight of man's individuality and worth as the child of God. We lose sight of the divine Principle, or Mind, which creates and governs the universe. Everything appears muddled.
Even as the Bible shines its light on the problems we face in this age, it shinesa light on the solution. Paul writes, ``Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.''3
Christ Jesus came to awaken mankind out of the dream of life in matter -- the Adam-dream of a man who began in dust and will end in dust. Jesus taught us that God is our Father and that we are the children of God. He also taught that God is Spirit. It follows, then, that God could not make man in or of matter. Yes, it appears that man is flesh and bones. But this is a false, limited sense of identity that must progressively give way to the spiritual reality of man as God's image.
The ever-present Christ, the divine influence in human thought, awakens us to the truth that man is spiritual and perfect, the image of divine Life and Love. As we let this truth light our lives (rather than the light from a TV set), we will discover, and experience, more of the fullness of life and no longer need to daydream it.
The ``carnal mind,'' which ``is enmity against God,''4 would tempt us to seek the superficial excitement found on television rather than the pure joy gained through the discipline of Christianity -- sometimes at the point when we most yearn for the vitality of Spirit. Christianity does require individual initiative. Christ Jesus required active moments of prayer on the mountaintop of spirituality as well as pure-minded living and healing works, which result from prayer. But such work confers a joy that can be found in no other way. And ultimately we have no choice but to purify our thoughts and lives through the exalting discipline of Christianity as Jesus taught it.
Christian Science teaches us that joy and fulfillment come when we govern our lives rightly, yielding to God's government. We can begin today to make intelligent choices about watching television. As we are mentally alert, refusing to drift along with the emptiness of materiality and instead letting the light of Christ govern our thought, we will no longer feel the spiritual hunger of an idle soul.
1Proverbs 19:15. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 228. 3Ephesians 5:14. 4Romans 8:7.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. I Thessalonians 5:6