So, after my last post regarding "Noise," I knew that the next thing about which the Holy Spirit was going to deal with me would be entertainment. I even thought to myself, "I'm not going to post about that one, because then I won't ever be able to watch a movie with a friend again without feeling like I'm being hypocritical or something." So there's a great deal of resistance in me to address this source of spiritual distraction.
Now, let me say something before I continue any further in this series of posts that reflect my personal battle against spiritual distraction. I do not believe that a Christian is not allowed to have fun or that we are not allowed to have moments or seasons of personal enjoyment simply for the purpose of relaxation and happiness.
Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. Ecclesiastes 5:19The Bible teaches that the practice of "enjoyment" of things and experiences that are purchased through our income is a "gift of God." Enjoyment is a good thing. It can be a God thing.
I think the problem may begin with our inability to practice the contentment that we are instructed through Paul.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)And it's notable that in the book of Proverbs, foolishness - when characterized as a prostitute soliciting business - uses enjoyment as her sales pitch. Certainly enjoyment can lead us downward into foolishness and sin.
Come, let's drink deep of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love. (Proverbs 7:18)
OK, now all of this was swirling in my mind after my last post. And then, this past weekend I had a chance to hang out with a friend whom I had not seen in some time. And in our conversation Tom began to talk about this great discipleship training ministry at his new church. My ears initially perked up because I have always envisioned a discipleship training institute as part of the epic vision. And as he went along, he repeated several ways and in several contexts that the course included, in ever-increasing increments, a requirement to limit the use of media in your life: ultimately attaining a limitation to 1 hour per week of all secular use of media in your life. Media is defined to include TV, movies, music, social networking, internet surfing for entertainment sake, books, and the like.
Honestly, my skin rippled at the thought. But then I began to ponder how much garbage goes in to my mind and spirit for the sake of entertainment. And I think of how much profitable spiritual enrichment could be fed to my spirit if I watched fewer movies, were committed to fewer shows, found less relaxation in mindless TV, played less "bejeweled"... (Of course, I would have to discipline myself to replace those things with truly spiritual things.) But, because I value entertainment so highly as a source of contentment and as a personal counselor to ease my mind at the end of a stressful day, it has become noise and distraction. It could be argued that in some areas it has become idolatry.
I have to one degree or another made entertainment a source for my personal happiness and well-being. There is such a fine line between enjoyment and reliance.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17)The truth is that while it is good to enjoy the things God brings into my life, those things were not created for or necessarily intended for my enjoyment. They are intended for God's enjoyment. And when they distract me from my growing relationship with God, they bring God displeasure instead. They are noise and sin for me.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11) I use King James here because I learned a worship song as a child that quotes this verse in this language.