Thanks to the wonders of the modern world you’ll find that people in the West have more leisure time than ever before. It is not surprising then that the entertainment industry has grown hugely over the last few decades. What with digital TV, the internet, films, music, computer games we live in a world saturated with entertainment. On average an individual in the UK spends five hours a day in leisure activities (reading, sport, TV, films, gaming, music, etc).
The question is: should a Christians entertainment habits be different from a non-Christian? Or to put it another way: how should Christians be entertained?
I love UP.
Right, this is going to be interesting. I suppose I should start by saying that there is nothing wrong with leisure time. Relaxing, taking time out, chilling, all have their place in our day. And there is nothing inherently wrong with being entertained; however that may be. For proof watch UP and tell me that films are wrong. Listen to Canon in D Major and tell me music is wrong. Play Plants vs. Zombies and tell me computer gaming is bad. Read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and tell me that books are evil.
But in saying that the absolute worst thing a Christian can do when it comes to entertainment is quite simply not to think about it.
“'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”
Luke 10 v 27
I’ve put the last bit in bold because we so often forgot about this command. We need to love God with our mind and that has to involve thinking about what we do. The idea of ‘mindlessly’ doing anything is wrong on two accounts. First, it is wrong because we should always be mindful of God and as for the second reason that moves me onto point 3…
Everything has an affect on you
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
Philippians 4 v 8
Think about the last television program you watched. Did it fit the above categories? Doubtful, in fact, it was most likely full of sex outside of marriage, crude humour, swearing and atheistically inclined thinking. Such is the world we live in.
And it is easy to say: “Oh, it’s ok, it’s not having an affect on me.” but that is simply not true. Everything that goes into our mind has an affect on us. More than that, in turning off your critical facilities and doing things mindlessly you are allowing entertainment to have an affect on you.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Galatians 6 v 7
If we spend time opening our mind to ‘ungodly’ things then we will reap what we sow. Junk in; junk out. It is also easy to think “It’s ok, I can cope with it.” Wrong thought! Our aim is to think about what is pure, noble, right and true not work out how far to the line of sin we can go.
The Bottom Line
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10 v 31
Are you being entertained for the glory of God? Now it may be so that you feel well rested and ready to continue on in your work. That’s great. Or it may be that you are entertaining yourself as a form of procrastination, out of laziness or out of desire to find comfort in something other than God. That’s not so good.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17 v 9
We have to be aware that our hearts do deceive us. What we think is having no affect on us, what we think is fine, what we think we can cope with is often harmful to us. We need to pray and ask God, who does understand our hearts, to reveal them to us.
I’m rubbish at this – I find myself asking difficult questions – is playing violent computer games focusing on what is pure and loving? Is watching some of the crap on TV good for me? What movies should I avoid and what can I see? How much allowance do I have? Can I be entertained by things with an atheistical message?
I don’t know; the Bible never really presents us with a list of things we can do and can’t do entertainment wise. Indeed, Paul explicitly confirms the freedom believers have. But with that freedom comes responsibility – the responsibility to do everything for the glory of God.
So next time you sit down to be entertained ask yourself this: at the end of this can I thank God for having watched, listened to or played something that is to his glory? Can I honestly thank God for the time spent?
It can easily be a yes – we can thank God for the creativity, the beauty, the skill, the fun, the emotional affect and the goodness the piece of entertainment provided or showed us. But it can also be a no – it isn’t true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy in which case we need to ask ourselves: is this for God’s glory? And if it isn’t then why are we watching it?