In mid-May I finished a yearlong class through my church designed to teach fundamental theology to the average, non-seminary church member. It walked us through the Bible from beginning to end, covering the main themes that run throughout the entire narrative of Scripture.
I could go on and on about this class! But here and now I want to talk about discipleship and how it impacts you. First, let me start out by saying everyone is being discipled by something.
If you look up the definition of “disciple” you will undoubtedly find references to Jesus Christ and his teachings. Simply put, a disciple is someone who learns from someone else – you do not have to be a part of a specific religion to be discipled. I bet you can name ten people you’ve learned from in your life that aren’t named Jesus.
The point is you have and are learning from – aka being discipled by – people and things and experiences all the time. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. I want to argue that it is.
When I was a kid, there were certain shows I was allowed to watch and (it seems to me and my sisters) many more we weren’t allowed to watch – Rugrats, Power Rangers, Ren and Stimpy. I could go on, but my mom would probably say not to. She had reasons why she didn’t want us watching those shows – there was fighting in the Power Rangers, the babies in Rugrats might give us escape ideas, Ren and Stimpy were Ren and Stimpy… the bare bones reason was that each of those shows taught us things she didn’t want us learning.
As parents, you’re in charge of helping your children grow up, and that means teaching them things that will keep them safe, happy and healthy. And we all know that kids are little sponges so we’re extra careful about what we do or don’t expose them to, so that they soak up more good ideas than bad. This is common sense for adults, whether you’re a parent or not.
So why do we barely think about what we may be soaking up, as adults?
Studies show we spent more than 10 hours per day on average staring at some kind of screen in 2016. Maybe we’ve heard things like that so many times now that we’re getting desensitized to the gravity of it. If we’re so concerned about the amount of screentime kids get, maybe we should consider the amount of screentime we allow ourselves and how it could be influencing us.
Daily we’re being told what success looks like from the world around us. A good family looks like this. Or a successful businessman or woman looks like that – their work/life balance, or lack thereof. Or we’re being sold an idea of the perfect body or skin type – and if you don’t have those, how to get them. And as adults there’s no one to tell us what we should or shouldn’t be absorbing.
We live in a world that tells us – disciples us – every day about what is good, what is worth gaining, what should be avoided, and what we should look and feel like. If we’re not aware of this, we may be discipled into believing that things that are dangerous to us are actually good for us.
It’s not good for us to spend all our time and money at work, or the mall, and miss out on nurturing our families or friendships. It’s not good for us to constantly be trying to look like we have it all together when we’re really crumbling apart inside. It’s not good for us to be so worried about our waistline that we neglect/abuse/stress over our meals and bodies so much that we forget (or don’t allow ourselves) to enjoy food and movement just for their own sake.
We live in a world that has a lot of beauty, but also a lot of mixed-up-ness. And life is meant to be enjoyed! If you wake up one day and realize you’re not enjoying some part of your life, I recommend you take a step back and figure out why. That will be the first step to making any kind of changes toward actual enjoyment. It is impossible to be perfect, contrary to what the world would have us believe. Let’s all give ourselves a break and allow ourselves and each other some grace in all our imperfections.
And since I talked about too much screentime, I’ll end here so you can power down this screen, too!