Entertainment Revisited

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:

Please note that all Scriptures may not be posted at this time.

Num. 23:19 π 1 Sam. 16:13 π 1 Sam. 16:14-23 π 1 Ki. 19:11-12 π Psa. 46:10 π Psa. 119:37 π Eccl. 2:24 π Eccl. 3:13 π Eccl. 5:18 π Eccl. 8:15 π Eccl. 9:7 π Isa. 22:13-14 π Isa. 30:15 π Ezek. 16:49 π Amos 6:3-7 π Mt. 7:21 π Mt. 14:6-12 π Mt. 24:45-51 π Mk. 6:23 π Lk. 12:16-21 π Lk. 21:36 π Jn. 4:24 π Jn. 14:6 π Rom. 8:6-8 π 1 Cor. 10:31 π 1 Cor. 15:19 π 1 Cor. 15:32 π Eph. 1:4-5 π Eph. 5:3-17 π Eph. 5:5 π Eph. 5:6-7 π Eph. 5:8 π Eph. 5:8-9 π Eph. 5:11-14 π Eph. 5:15-16 π Eph. 5:17 π Phlp. 4:8 π Col. 3:1-2 π Col. 3:2 π Col. 4:5 π 2 Ths. 2:10 π Tit. 1:2 π Heb. 10:31 π Heb. 12:11 π Heb. 12:14 π Heb. 13:2 π Jas. 1:13 π Jas. 1:13-15 π Jas. 1:17 π Jas. 4:4 π Jas. 4:8 π Rev. 22:11

One of the current vogues in modern Christianity is to pray and seek after “revival.” And this is well and good, if true revival is sought - and understood for what it truly is.

Revival is a renewing, a preserving, a giving of new vitality to a life that already exists. It is a misuse of the word to schedule and hold “revival” meetings for it is only God, who gave the new birth to a believer in the first place, who can give a revitalization of the spiritual life that is found in Christ. It would be more appropriate to call such meetings “evangelistic” meetings if they are aimed at producing more new converts or “prayer” meetings if they are aimed at seeking God’s presence and grace to request from God a true revival of the spiritual life within us. Revival comes when and only when God cares to give it to His people. And while men cannot bring on a revival, there are things that we can do to prepare ourselves for God and that will bring us near to God. James tells us that if we will draw near to God, He will draw near to us. ( Jas. 4:8; top )

Revival, in its most basic definition, is two-sided. First, as has been demonstrated historically, God, through His Spirit, comes upon man in more intense fashion than is accounted for in the “usual” salvation experience. To call the subsequent fillings of the Holy Spirit “revival” is true in a limited sense, but falls short of the miraculous events that have occurred in true historical revivals. The second aspect of revival is that man, in obedient response to God’s presence and power, submits to God and receives Him, surrendering completely to His will. Thus man becomes more like God in holiness, righteousness and love. It is in this sense that the current vogue which prays for and seeks revival is short-sighted. Revival is not measured in terms of volume, excitement, or even abuse of spiritual gifts - it is measured in terms of obedience and true holiness before God.

Psalm 119 is filled with requests that God revive the psalmist. And while much good can be gained from a complete study of all these requests, I want to focus on only one. For we in our society must consider what we will be called upon to give up if we truly want to experience a real revival of God. The psalmist cries, “Turn away my eyes from worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” ( Psa. 119:37; top )

For us to experience true revival from God, we will have to allow God to turn our eyes away from worthless things. That we are to look to Jesus for all things and to be consumed and obsessed, even possessed, by Him, is a clear and evident truth of the New Testament. However, an objective and truthful inventory of the things that have recently passed in front of our eyes will tell us that we are not so absorbed with Him as we should be.

One of the first thoughts that will probably cross our minds when we think of worthless things to see is television. And there is much therein to condemn as worldly and sinful, much that is not in any way a proper diet for a true believer in Christ Jesus. But I do not wish to so narrow the focus for there are many other worthless things to see and watch in our society. And the vast majority of these come under the category of entertainment, whether that be the performing arts, the classical arts, or the hobbies and sports that people pursue to while away the time that God has given us to use in service to His kingdom.

In pointing out these dangers inherent in seeking to be entertained, I do not wish to be misunderstood to be saying that all entertainment is sinful or even completely worthless. Paul wrote, “...whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.” ( Phlp. 4:8; top ) If the entertainment you pursue matches this description and is pursued so as to provide rest and relaxation for the mind and body so as to allow it to be better prepared for continued service to the kingdom of God, then there is nothing wrong with that particular entertainment. It is similar to the use of sex. When sex is performed outside of the marriage relationship, it is sin and it is very destructive. So too, when entertainment is pursued outside of the parameters of God’s Word and will, it is sin and it is very destructive.

The word “entertain” is found only once in the Bible ( Heb. 13:2; top ) but that is a word that has more to do with hospitality towards travelers and strangers than it has to do with the modern notion of keeping one’s mind occupied with trivial songs and/or fictional stories. The word “entertainment” is not in the Bible at all. When one considers that God’s Word, the Bible, is a complete gift to mankind which can enable him to live an abundant and godly life and that God did not even consider the word “entertainment” important enough to include in any of the 66 books that make up the Bible, one should re-evaluate our obsessive commitment to entertainment as a way of life.

There are three passages that I have found that speak of various aspects of entertainment and I believe it would do us well to consider them. The first is in 1 Samuel.

Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.”

So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. ( 1 Sam. 16:14-23; top )

This story is not truly about entertainment. The verse directly before this story tells us that Samuel had just anointed David to be king over Israel “and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.” ( 1 Sam. 16:13; top ) David worshiped the LORD with his harp and his music. Worship, even though it involves music and singing is not entertainment. That people have been entertained while the musician worships does not negate the act of worship itself, nor does it cause the act of worship to become merely entertainment. Worship is the expression of a heart toward God. That expression and God’s reception of it are not affected in the least by a listener’s interpretation of the moment as entertaining. That merely demonstrates the listener’s inability to grasp the spiritual things of God. And that is what I believe is happening to Saul here.

When Saul hired David as a musician, he looked at David as an entertainer. But the only reason the entertainment had any impact on Saul was because it spiritually soothed him. Many people who go where true worship is practiced do the same. They experience the peacefulness of the music and the warmth of God’s presence in the praises of His people, but never enter into the worship experience themselves. And just as Saul listened and was soothed, so too these people today listen and are content. David worshiped and grew stronger in the LORD even while Saul listened and grew stronger in his insanity. So too, today’s true worshipers grow stronger in the Lord while those around them who merely listen and are soothed remain complacent in their sins. This is a most dangerous place to be and we must be careful that we do not confuse worship for entertainment for, in the end, the true worshipers will be comforted and the mere listeners will be in eternal agony.

Some people are caught off guard by the phrase “...an evil spirit from the LORD tormented” Saul. There are two aspects of this that we need to examine to understand what is meant here. First, the Hebrew word for evil here is ra’ (rah) and is translated in a variety of ways. It can be translated as evil, wickedness, wicked, mischief, hurt, bad, trouble, sore, affliction, ill, adversity, ill-favoured, harm, naught, noisome, grievous, or sad. As an adjective it can represent bad, evil, disagreeable, malignant, bad, unpleasant (giving pain, unhappiness, misery), displeasing (making sad or unhappy). From other passages in the Bible which tell us that there is no evil or wickedness in God ( Jas. 1:13 , 17 ; Tit. 1:2 ; Num. 23:19; top ), we know that the writer is not using the word “evil” in an ethical or moral sense and that it must be the sense in which the spirit that came upon Saul was disagreeable and unpleasant to him.

To anyone who has ever fought against the conviction of the Holy Spirit, this misery and unpleasantness is easily understood. To know, as Saul knew, that God’s Spirit had left him and gone over to David must have caused intense jealousy and longings that drove Saul to near insanity. And this is exactly what we see in Saul as he tries several times to kill David even though David refused to raise a hand against Saul. This is the evil, the troublesome, irritating, hurtful, unpleasant, painful, miserable spirit that came upon Saul. The writer of Hebrews also gives us another possible clue into the source of the misery when he writes, “...no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” ( Heb. 12:11; top ) Saul made the chastening worse because he refused to be trained by it and ultimately experienced God’s judgment when, on Mount Gilboa, he and his son Jonathan were slain in battle.

The second passage that speaks to various aspects of the entertainment mindset is in Amos:

Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; Who chant to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved over the affliction of Joseph. Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, And those who recline at banquets shall be removed. ( Amos 6:3-7; top )

Again we must see the balance of Scripture in regards to rest, relaxation, eating, and drinking. I am not here to condemn any of these activities outright, only their sinful abuse. As A.W. Tozer has noted, “The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin,” and that is my point exactly. We have grown so accustomed to having so much abundance of food and idle time that we have neglected to be wise stewards of these things.

Let us consider the conclusions reached by Solomon, the wisest man on earth:

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, ( Eccl. 2:24; top )
That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God. ( Eccl. 3:13; top )
Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him - for this is his lot. ( Eccl. 5:18; top )
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun. ( Eccl. 8:15; top )
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. ( Eccl. 9:7; top )

Food and drink, like any other physical necessity is appropriate and ought to be enjoyed with thankfulness. But when that enjoyment becomes the goal, and obedience to God is forsaken, our priorities are out of order.

This is the case when Isaiah, speaking for the LORD, said, “The Lord, the LORD Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! ‘Let us eat and drink,’ you say, `for tomorrow we die!’” ( Isa. 22:13-14; top ) The people ignored God’s command given through his prophets to set aside physical comforts for a day and instead feasted and mocked the prophet. This is similar to what many people today do. They see the commands of the Lord for self-denial and obedience to the Spirit and slough them off as legalistic and meaningless. Then they have the audacity to mock the preacher who denounces the partying, binge-ing spirit that is equally wicked when the substance being abused is food or sleep as it is when it is some harmful and addictive drug. No one takes seriously the warning that we will soon face God, either when we die or when He returns to take His people home, and that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” ( Heb. 10:31; top )

This “Party till we drop” philosophy is the attitude of the man in Jesus’ parable:

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” ( Lk. 12:16-21; top )

It is the height of arrogance to ignore the eternal implications of life. To expect to live forever here on earth is ludicrous but yet many of us live as if were both immortal and indestructible. And it is the hope of resurrection after death that causes the partying spirit to be the height of stupidity. As Paul says, “If the dead do not rise, `Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” ( 1 Cor. 15:32; top ) To live this life carelessly and with reckless abandon would be the appropriate response - if there were no resurrection from the dead. If our hope of reward as Christians lay only this life, we would have to say, along with Paul, “we are of all men the most pitiable.” ( 1 Cor. 15:19; top ) It is precisely because there is a resurrection from the dead, an eternity after this life is over, that we must live carefully and obediently. Christianity ceases to be intelligent and becomes sheer nonsense when there is no requirement for holiness and self-control in light of eternal rewards. In fact, it ceases to be Christianity.

The third instance of entertainment in the Bible is found in Matthew:

But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him at the table, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. ( Mt. 14:6-12; top )
Here we see true entertainment, the performing arts at the peak of their powers. The king is pleased with the girl’s dance and offers her a reward. He even promises with an oath to give her up to half the kingdom. ( Mk. 6:23; top ) Unfortunately, she wanted something the king didn’t expect. The girl’s mother, the queen, seeing an opportunity to get rid of the prophet who was so publicly naming her and her husband’s sin (which would cost her the queenship), asked for John the Baptist’s head.

I see a vivid depiction of the unforeseen consequences of succumbing to the effects of entertainment here, especially in view of the extravagant excesses to which American and European entertainers have gone to. At first, entertainment is enjoyable. But then it helps you forget the word of the Lord which says to forsake your sins. But then comes the time when entertainment puts the word of the Lord completely out of your life. In essence, you kill the prophet of God in your life by refusing to hear the message of the Lord and obey what He is telling you through this prophet. Or you are careful to choose a “church” where the preacher no longer pours forth the undiluted truth of Scripture or one where no obedient response is required or expected. Or you are so hardened by the sinful lifestyle and actions you have witnessed (as well as the mental or physical sins you have committed) during this entertainment, that you are able to sit through the message with only the faintest stirrings of conviction. Gone is the ability to humbly respond in agreement with the man of God that your sin is indeed greivous and you need to forsake it, no matter what the cost. This is exceedingly sad indeed.

When we look at the essence of entertainment, we see that at its core it is pleasing. Herodias’ daughter pleased Herod. The Greek word is aresko, probably derived from airo to lift up or take away, (through the idea of exciting emotion); to be agreeable (or by implication to seek to be so). Entertainment is pleasurable, it lifts us up out of ourselves and takes us away from the realities of the moment and gives us more agreeable circumstances to contemplate.

We must face the fact that when we entertain our selves we are in reality only pleasing our selves. And while there may be a time when relaxing the mind and body can be beneficial, pleasing self is always a dangerous thing. Consider what Paul says:

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. ( Rom. 8:6-8 - Amp.; top)

Those who continuously gratify their self’s desires for pleasure and fulfillment are at enmity with God and cannot be pleasing or acceptable to Him. When we seek to be entertained, we are faced with the option of pleasing self or pleasing God. And if we were brutally honest with ourselves, we would know that we have not been pleasing to God in the area of entertainments except in those extremely few times we have truly needed some rest and relaxation. We must confess that the majority of our entertainment is simply and only sin against God.

If we look even closer at the essential elements of entertainment, we will see again the tentacles of worldliness reaching out to ensnare the believer. A key ingredient to entertainment is leisure time - without this time to spare, this time of being idle with no pressing, life-sustaining activity to perform, there is no possibility of entertainment. A starving or thirsty or poor man is not too concerned with being entertained; he is more concerned with finding food or water or work to keep himself alive. A man confronted with a disaster like a fire or devastating earthquake is not too concerned with being entertained; he is more concerned with staying alive and saving the lives of those around him, especially the lives of his family and friends.

God, who ultimately judged and permanently destroyed Sodom, revealed His original indictment against Sodom to Ezekiel and said, “...this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idlenss...” ( Ezek. 16:49; top ) The current and modern American way of life, the entire entertainment industry, is built upon our unprecedented amount of spendable income and leisure time - two striking similarities that we have with a city that God destroyed with fire. Perhaps we could learn something here but most likely we will not.

Paul gave clear instructions about maintaining a pure and chaste walk with God. He wrote:

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. ( Eph. 5:3-17; top )

If we look at this passage and apply it to modern entertainment, there will not be much that is left to watch or listen to. All movies, music, art, or drama containing sex, profanity, lewdness or anything which causes a believer to be tempted is sinful and is to be avoided. Paul warns us that “...no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” ( Eph. 5:5; top ) - no matter what label he might apply to himself (even “pastor” or “elder”!) and no matter how many times he tries to proclaim himself a Christian.

Paul continues, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” ( Eph. 5:6-7; top ) Don’t be fooled by thinking you can do all the carnal and worldly things you want to do and still be a Christian. This is what brings God’s wrath down on those who are disobedient to His Word. So be wise - do not rebelliously and habitually partake of their sin and you won’t partake of God’s wrath.

Now Paul tells us why this should be so. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” ( Eph. 5:8; top ) You used to be one thing, now you are the opposite. You used to be darkness - evil, ignorant, foolish, and dead - but now you are light - good, illuminated, educated, respectful, and alive. So, he says, “Walk as children of light...” Live like what you really are! Bear the fruit of the Spirit which “is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” ( Eph. 5:8-9; top ), for this is how you can know what is acceptable to the Lord. No longer will you be trying to please yourself, a rather fruitless and never-ending task in itself, but you will know that God is pleased with you when you walk as light as He is light. You won’t have to be afraid that He is going to judge your sinfulness and worldliness, you will know what He expects of you and you will rely on His grace and His Spirit to accomplish it.

In essence, Paul is presenting us with three possibilities for our lives. The first, that of being a darkened, ignorant pagan, is no longer available to us for we have come to know the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. The second option is to live as if we hadn’t come to know Him, living in denial, as it were, of all that our soul and spirit is telling us is the true reality. This option, of living worldly and sinfully, causes a duality which will eventually rip a person apart, stripping from him his peace, joy and possibly even his sanity, and placing him in grave certainty of losing his eternal position in Christ. The third option, the intelligent option, is to live in recognition that we have come face to face with the living God and that we are forever changed because of that encounter. We have been bought with a price and we are no longer our own to command and direct - we look to Another now for direction and instruction. It is this option that will enable us to walk in reality and to experience God’s peace and joy which go beyond our intellectual capacity to explain, for they come from a spiritual source outside of ourselves.

This is Paul’s admonition when he says, “...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’” ( Eph. 5:11-14; top ) And if we apply this to entertainment, especially movies and drama, we must truly question the soundness of our decision to participate. For, even though it is only fiction, we witness multiple sins and not only do we not expose the darkness for what it is, we enjoy it and wish we could live such sinfully exciting lives. We have abandoned the well of Living Water and hewn for ourselves a cistern that leaks. We must return to Christ in all things or we might as well abandon Him completely for He will not be God of most of our lives. He is God of all or He is not God at all. If He is not God, we have no reason to expect to be a part of His kingdom either in this life or the life to come. We only fool ourselves if He is not Lord and Savior.

Paul counsels us to “...walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” ( Eph. 5:15-16; top ) Since we have been given only so much time in which to accomplish that which we decide is important, let us not fool ourselves: what we are consistently doing tells us where our priorities are. If we are constantly at the movies or constantly entertaining with friends, that is what we consider most important in life. If we find ourselves out witnessing, feeding and clothing the poor, praying for God’s people and seeking to meet their needs or simply doing whatever God has put before us to do, then that is what we consider most important in life. Let us not believe that our priorities are upon God’s kingdom when our actions demonstrate otherwise.

But since we in America have so much leisure time, let us be about our Father’s business. Let us witness of Christ’s love to the lost. Let us feed and clothe the poor. Let us pray for God’s people. Let us lay down our lives and agendas and meet the needs of those around us. Let us forsake the entertainment industry. Let us forego the social games and gatherings. Let us demonstrate that our contact with the living and true God has indeed changed us. Or let us drop out of the religious deceptions we play upon ourselves by merely going to a “church” service a few times a week to do our “religious duty.” As Paul says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” ( Eph. 5:17; top )

Paul, in a similar vein, wrote to the Colossians, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” ( Col. 4:5; top ) To redeem means to buy back, to rescue from loss. We are to rescue each moment from being lost, using wisdom toward those who are outside the Body of Christ. Wisdom begins with recognition and respect for God and His ways. Does entertainment measure up to this command? Is entertainment a wise usage of time? Does it rescue each moment from being wasted and forever lost? No! It is a foolish waste of time in the face of an eternal hell for a believer to be consumed with being entertained. Entertainment is a way in which time is passed because we have nothing more important or more beneficial to do with that time. If we buy into that lie that we have time to spare and no pressing needs to attend to - and it is a lie, for many are dying and entering an eternal hell during those precious moments we were being entertained, many poor and afflicted are in need of comfort and assistance during that time - then we are not being wise and we are not redeeming the time. We are sinning against those we could have been serving and against God. We would do well to fall on our knees and cry out to God for mercy and grace to overcome our need for entertainment. We would do well to stop acting as if time were on our side.

There is another essential ingredient to entertainment that reaches out and assists in ensnaring the believer in worldliness and sinfulness. And that ingredient is fantasy, unreality. Our culture does not see this as a hazard, but for the pilgrim on his way to the holy city, the new Jerusalem, it is most dangerous. Jesus told the woman at the well and it is still true today that, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” ( Jn. 4:24; top ) If we are consistently in an environment that is false, how are we being trained to be useful in the realms of ultimate reality? Jesus said, “I am...the truth...” ( Jn. 14:6; top ) If all we want is fantasy and fiction, where is our love for truth? And if we have no love for the truth, we are going to be deceived when alluring but false doctrines come along - especially in light of the fact that the false doctrines (popularly called “church”) are already here and have deceived millions. (see also 2 Ths. 2:10; top ) Fiction and fantasy seem harmless until we realize that we are commanded to walk in truth.

Here television plays an intensive part in programming us for unreality. Encyclopedia Britannica, in its explanation of how television works, tells us:

The technology of television has been made possible by a quirk in human vision: images are retained by the retina for a brief time after they strike it. Making use of this phenomenon, bits of a picture are displayed on a television screen fast enough that a viewer sees them assembled as complete pictures. By rapidly changing the pictures on the screen (a rate of between 25 and 30 pictures per second is sufficient), an illusion of motion is created.

In effect, in addition to watching whatever fiction is being presented on the television or in a movie, we are watching a lie, an illusion, a distortion of true reality when we watch television or any moving picture. Is it any wonder we have trouble dealing with real life when we are trained from an early age to expect all life and motion to happen at a rate of 25 to 30 pictures per second in a two-dimensional environment? Perhaps this is a paranoid observation, but perhaps not. I leave you to decide the effect of living subconsciously with this tremendous deceiver of the mind that substitutes illusion for reality.

Having laid out these sweeping statements, it is necessary to ask: Are there any beneficial or redeeming qualities to entertainment? For those times when we need rest and relaxation for the mind and body, what standards ought we go by in choosing an activity that will honor God?

Whatever entertainment we participate in, whether that be drama, music, sports, or performing arts, we must remember that, “...whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ( 1 Cor. 10:31; top ) Is God’s kingdom furthered and His reputation enhanced by this activity you want to participate in? Is your walk with Him strengthened by this thing you want to do? Or is He going to have to wait somewhere else till you return? Would Jesus do this thing if He were here? If not, you can be assured that you ought not do it either.

Another principle that we could apply to our choice of entertainments is found in Isaiah: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” ( Isa. 30:15; top ) Our strength is not in our vast amounts of busy labors, it is not found in loud and exuberant activities. It is found in quietness, rest and confidence in God. God still says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” ( Psa. 46:10; top ) God still wants us to know that He is not speaking to us in the wind, the fire, or the earthquake but that He is speaking to us in that still, small voice. ( 1 Ki. 19:11-12; top ) If our entertainment tends to cause us to hear God and to rest confidently in Him, then we can rest assured that it is truly beneficial and honoring to Him. But if it stirs up our adrenaline and excitement so that we can forge ahead in our own strength, we can be assured that our entertainment is not beneficial and that we are not honoring Him.

So, we are faced with a choice. We can pursue our entertainments and ultimately drown in the evil that we bring upon ourselves. (see Jas. 1:13-15; top ; 4:4; top ) We can continue to waste the time that God has given us in this life and not seek to use it wisely, running the risk of receiving a foolish servant’s reward. (see Mt. 24:45-51; top ) And we can be distracted from the things of God. (see Col. 3:2; top )

Or we can pursue God’s revival and renewal in our lives. We can set our hearts on pleasing God and not our self. (see Eph. 1:4-5; top ) We can make every effort to redeem the time we have and not waste it. (see Mt. 7:21; top ) And we can focus on the things of God. (see Col. 3:1-2; top ) We can diligently pursue the requirements that God has placed upon us such as holiness ( Heb. 12:14 ), righteousness ( Rev. 22:11 ), and being counted worthy. ( Lk. 21:36; top )

But we cannot pretend that there is a neutral position in this matter.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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