Binge eating is usually to do with junk food. Binge drinking is often related to alcohol. Binge-watching, well ... that could be TV shows or silly cat videos on the internet. I was recently watching The Chosen, the first-ever multi-season show about Jesus, but also the first aiming to make the side characters in the Gospels come to life. And the writer/director in his introduction was wearing a Binge Jesus T-shirt, encouraging an alternative to all the negative binges in which we engage.
During this pandemic, I do not doubt that a lot more entertainment is being binged online. But do not be deceived. We should not treat it as 'harmless fun'. Whatever, we consume through our eyes impacts more than just our eyes. It shapes our minds and our hearts. Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23). Based on the context, Jesus was likely referring to having your eye on money as the issue at hand. But as I read this verse thinking about entertainment, I can't help feeling it is deeply relevant in this context too!
At one time, I was fascinated by the Tiny House movement and "binged" on endless YouTube videos about tiny houses. As I consumed these videos I found that the thoughts that occupied my mind most of the time became about my house, what I chose to fill it with, would it look good in a YouTube video and so on. Even though the Tiny House movement was founded on the principle of opposing a materialism of excessiveness, I discovered that my mind was being filled with a different sort of materialism – a materialism of minimalism, but materialism nonetheless.
It was an eye-opening realisation for me that consuming "harmless" videos could change the predominating thoughts of my mind so easily! If materialism isn't what I want driving my thoughts, what do I want to be the predominating thoughts of my mind? As a Christian, I don't want to be dwelling on the concerns of this world. I want to be dwelling on those things which have eternal worth. When I dwell on my identity as a child of God because Jesus died to free me from my sins, I have peace in the midst of a judgmental world. When I dwell on the fact that the Holy Spirit is in my heart and gives me victory over sin, I have peace in the midst of temptation. When I dwell on the security God has stored up for me as an inheritance in his eternal kingdom, I have peace in the midst of uncertainty. How do we get to this place when we dwell on these things of eternal worth naturally from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment?
The answer, in the words of The Chosen's director, is "Binge Jesus". This doesn't mean just watching lots of Christian entertainment instead of secular entertainment though! Don't switch off and consume, but we need to switch our minds on and study the Bible, ask questions, pray to God about parts we don't get, let it impact our minds first and then have an overflowing effect on our behaviour. I can vouch for the fact that having replaced my YouTube binge with "Binge Jesus", I do feel that peace which is stable even as circumstances change around me. I feel an intimacy with God who is my Father I consult and trust in all the time. It's taking time, but slowly reading the Bible, seeking answers to my questions, praying through new ideas with God has become the new desire of my heart. A greater desire than binge-watching YouTube was before. Who would have thought?