Entertainment! Is that Scriptural?
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24
On the scale of human activity where does God place what we call entertainment? Arguably, these days, more and more people spend their leisure hours either on their electronic gadgets engaged in passive or interactive media, in games, shows, texting, tweeting, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, watching TV, going to the movies, or a host of other activities to satisfy the human need for enjoyment, for pleasure apart from regular daily work.
We know there are those who think that once you become a Christian you are expected by God to disengage from the world in all things and pursue “holy” endeavors, denying all desires for fun, simple pleasures and all that would be classified as entertainment, namely nearly all of the list above. Others would say we’re not supposed to disengage from the world at all, rather we should be everywhere the world lives and being as like them as possible so we can be indistinguishable among them in order to show that we can be as “cool” as they are and that being a Christian doesn’t mean you can’t also have “fun” just like them.
But, both of these attitudes miss the mark at opposite extremes. God does not call us to hermit-living on the one hand or to wanton prurient associations with those who have no human restraint for their behavior on the other.
Entertainment per se is not against righteous holy living, but it is a matter of choices and degrees of engagement, just as “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” but, money itself is neither good or evil. What is evil is the love of it, the degree to which it has rule over our lives. The measure by which it determines our desires and our sense of value, worth or fulfillment is what determines the evil associated with it.
Likewise, with entertainment. God has not put a prohibition on us as human beings to never enjoy human pleasures by whatever legal and reasonably wholesome social or physical activity we might desire to do. The issue for us is to be discerning in our choices of activities. As the Apostle wrote:
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
It is significant that the first place Jesus performed a public miracle was at a wedding. Now this was no extraordinary event as far as we know. It was a wedding. There is no mention of who was being married, only that it was a wedding at Cana. An average every day, routine wedding. Ok. Every wedding is a beautiful and unique experience for the bride and groom. But except for those directly involved weddings don’t make headlines. That is, unless it is an affair of state or of national or international consequence. But this wedding was not one of those.
At this ordinary wedding the people, including Jesus were doing what for generations was common at all weddings. It was a celebration and people were having fun, dancing, singing, laughing, drinking wine and enjoying the festive occasion. When the wine ran out Jesus was called on to appropriate more wine. It is interesting that at this ordinary wedding when there was no more wine the people didn’t just leave. The mother of Jesus pressed on Him to do whatever was necessary to keep the party going. So, Jesus obliged her with a miracle provision of between 150 and 180 gallons of new wine. [John 2:1-11] it was a miracle, indeed.
The purpose of the miracle was not merely to provide more wine for the wedding guests, to get everybody as plastered as possible, but rather is was done to make a memorable, lasting demonstration for all those present, (and for every generation to follow, even to this day) that Jesus was there to bring new life and in greater measure to everyone who would come to know that He indeed was God with them.
Entertainment, pleasure, fun, joy are all acceptable in the Kingdom of God. Laughter is a good thing and it does good like a medicine. [Proverbs 17:22] Likewise, art and adornment are a central part of creation and an essential part of the instruments of worship. It was evident in the design of the Tabernacle of Moses that God gave to him. What some may consider useless frills and extravagances God demonstrates as the immeasurable quality of His creativity. All things are and were created for His pleasure down to the most intricate detail, and all is given for us to enjoy.
Now man is not naturally an expert in how to distinguish between the precious and the common place, between the worthy and the unworthy, between the beneficial and the detrimental. So, we need help. God gives us that help and the ability to discern the difference between these things by His Word and the Holy Spirit in us guiding us into all truth.
Life is to be enjoyed not merely endured until the end.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy…”1Timothy 6:17
God is not jealous of our possessions, privileges or our prosperity. All that we have to enjoy comes from Him. He wants us to enjoy it all. What He is jealous for is our hearts. When our “stuff” our pleasure or our entertainment becomes more important to us than gratitude for the Provider of our “stuff” then we have a problem. When our desire for entertainment is more valued than our desire to worship God, then we have a problem. When our pleasure is more earnestly sought than God’s pleasure then we have a problem.
The solution to the problem is to remember the Lord our God who gives us the power to get wealth in whatever measure we enjoy it. To remember and to return to our first love, that first awareness of God’s immeasurable grace and mercy given to us through the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and repent. Then, get up and move on with life in the joy of the Lord.
A life proverb from Mom: If you would be ashamed to take Jesus with you to the place you’re going for entertainment then you don’t need to be there either. If Jesus is not welcome at the party, then you are not welcome their either.