Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are You a Book Worm?

Many people proudly dub themselves Book Worms - but what does that really mean?  I've never met a self-proclaimed book worm who doesn't reveal that the majority of the material they read is fiction.

Thesaurus: Fiction n. - fabrication, invention, lies, fibs, untruth, fantasy, falsehood, nonsense. 

So...why the obsession with fiction?  The only reason I can come up with is they lure of escape from reality that fiction offers.  But what are they trying to escape from?  Is life something to run and hide from? Did God intend for us to spend our lives entertaining ourselves?  There are only two instances of the word entertain in the Bible and they reside in the same verse.

Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

In the end, what kind of legacy does a book worm leave?  I've noticed a few common denominators.

Self facsination
Their facination with their own lives - their likes and dislikes, goals and dreams, their views on everything from politics to fashion - is always at the forefront of their conversation.  Not that any of these things are inherent evils. Just that I've noticed that they are a predominant factor in this type of person.  The plethora of fiction available today has paved the way for the modern day epidemic of preoccupied, self-interested people. For the most they are not "otherly", or concerned with others as much or more than themselves.

Mark 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

Blurred Sense of Reality
So much time is spent indulging in fantasy, that a surreal view of life, to some degree, is often the result.   Their accomplishments in life seem to be limited to those that are personally stimulating or rewarding.  By nature, the fables they immerse themselves in only offer them a zoom lens depiction of life far removed from reality leaving them with a perspective that's a bit skewed at best.  But at worst, it leaves them further from the reality of life. Serving others and being useful to God.

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Eternal Value
How many hours spent indulging in fiction could have been spent on eternal pursuits?  In the end, only God knows which of our works will be burned up as wood, hay and stubble and which will survive the purifying fire as eternal and valuable. But I think we can safely venture to say that the time spent on fiction reading holds very little eternal value.  What if that same time were spent in prayer?  Scripture study? Or service to our families and the needy? 

1 Corinthians 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

Lost Time
We are only given a certain amount of time on this earth. God, as our creator, has the right to judge us by right of ownership.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
I often wonder if the number of fiction books that a bookworm has read were nonfiction, they might be the equivilant to a master's degree in Bible, medince, law or science. 

The bottom line for me is that being a bookworm isn't something to be proud of.  I always feel a sense of sadness mixed with irritation when I hear someone boasting about being a fiction junky.  So many wasted hours that accumulate into days, weeks, years and eventually a lifetime.  They have exchanged a potential lifetime of selfless service for vicarious living through invented paper characters.

Any Redeeming Value?
Is fiction ever worthwhile?  I'm racking my brain trying to think of some redeeming quality.  And when I say redeeming, I am referring to  God's conditions for redemption, not mine.  Does God find fiction a valuable spenditure of the precious, irreversible time he has given us?  I imagine there are a few works of fiction that might be of some value.  But they make up such a small fraction of the works available that their use would never render anyone a bookworm.

The Coming Famine
There are some who have grown so dependent upon iphones, social network twitter-twaddle and so forth that they cannot imagine life without them. They seem to be oblivious to reality.  The Bible is God's word to mankind.  It not only explains but contains our history and it is a guidebook for living and contains the historical record of the future as well.  It is the one book we never want to live without.  We should read it, meditate on it and memorize it. For one day, there will be a famine.
Amos 8:11-12 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

That is a scary prophecy!  They will wander from sea to sea seeking what?  Not their precious iphones or their beloved fiction novels. Not their movies or iTunes... but the word of the LORD.  I don't ever want to be without the word of the Lord.  I want to hide it in my heart and teach my children to do so, too. 

The Information Age...Really?
We are seeing more useless information than ever before in the history of mankind.  I am not a fan of social networks or works of fiction. It is just too much mind numbing nothingness.  My bookshelves are filled with informative nonfiction. Truth. 

As children of God, are we spending our time wisely and serving our families and others or are we just biding our time?  Look around your home and you will see your ministry.  God has given you what you have to glorify Him in your life and pour it into your family first and then to spill over onto others.  Don't make the mistake of starving your family and then seeking to fill someone else's cup. God has established the priority and we must take that seriously. They are your eternal investment.  

1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

If you need more excitement, seek out opportunities to serve in your community.  But whatever you do, don't waste what precious time you have been given on fiction books.  

Psalms 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

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