BALANCING ENTERTAINMENT AND INTIMACY WITH GOD

Unprecedentedly the whole world is locked down due to COVID - 19. It has brought tremendous challenges in almost all sectors. There used to be a great relief particularly for working parents as their children were meaningfully engaged in school activities. But now many are helplessly looking at the inflow of the entertainment available to children on internet which are sometimes a matter of grave concern for the parents as to how to guide children to pick a suitable one. Needless to say that there are many people both young and old spend lot of time and money for fun. Children when they are exposed to unlimited and unmonitored entertainment will contract severe behavioral changes. Families that are rooted in the Scripture may find it all the more difficult to balance both entertainment and intimacy with God. Some would argue that it is possible to balance both entertainment and intimacy with God, but for some entertainment is a taboo. Here, I am not attempting to either condemn or commend but to help the readers to discern the far-reaching consequences of uncensored entertainments available everywhere for all. Take a look at the cost of it.

  • Moral disorder

  • Physical laziness

  • Isolation of the individual

  • Fragmentation within the family

  • Wasting of time and resources

  • Lack of concentration

  • Lack of self control

  • Emotional instability

  • Eating disorders

It is certain that the influence of the world is seen in various ways in many of the spiritual activities of the church as well. For example, much of today's worship is oriented to the idea of entertainment. The people must have a jolly good time or they will leave the church and go to one which has a better band, a funnier preacher, a bigger stage, and more brilliant lighting effects. We need to pay attention to what Paul writes in II Timothy 3, “Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters,” and so on and, “They shall be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” We need to be aware that even the very thing that we love to do for God out of our devotion to Him can turn out to be a self gratification than pleasing Him. What we put before our eyes impacts our hearts and minds, and that matters to God.

Sometimes our eyes can be so blind that we won’t be able to recognize the common practices among us that can be in fact sinful as we are already saturated within our culture. We cannot and should not take such cultural blind spots casually. There may not be a list of explicitly mentioned dos and don’ts in the scripture with regard to entertainment as such. But as Christians our faith and practices should match with what the scripture say. The Bible is our instruction manual. Therefore, we need to carefully measure the options based on the Biblical principles and not based on what is commonly accepted among the peer group or in our society because the Bible is above all the cultures of this world. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12 says “Everything is permissible for me”- but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”- but I will not be mastered by anything. This verse gives an idea on how we must live out our life while being in this world.

1.DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD

Paul reminds the Corinthian church to do all things for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Westminster Shorter Catechism says “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” The very purpose that God created us is to bring glory to Him and to please in him in everything we do. So routinely we need to ask ourselves whether God is glorified through our actions and thoughts.

How do we know if something glorifies God or not? For instance, when I go out for a run in the morning, is God glorified? That can be hard to answer. But I try and imagine God being physically present with me in the activity; running down the road alongside me. Am I embarrassed to have him beside me? Or can I enjoy fellowship with him as we do this thing? Could you imagine Jesus sitting with you and enjoy what you enjoy?

2.YOU MAY APPROVE WHAT IS EXCELLENT AND BE BLAMELESS

It was Paul’s desire for the church at Philippians that they should be blameless on the “day of Christ.” In Philippians 1:9-10 Paul says “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” The day of the Lord in the Old Testament refers to the judgement day. The term day of Christ in the New Testament talks about the Parousia, the Second Coming of the Lord. It is, therefore, significant to note what Paul implies here is to live our temporary life here on earth with an eternal perspective. We are asked to present ourselves blameless on the day of the Lord and we need to approve of things which are excellent and not merely of what is good.

3.DO NOT CONFORM TO THE PATTERNS OF THIS WORLD

In the book of Romans Paul writes in Romans 12:2. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It is more vivid when James says, “the friendship of the world is enmity with God, and whosoever is the friend of the world is the enemy of God” in James 4:4. We are in the world but not of the world. We belong to a different world order and our life style and conduct should be distinct so that we can lead others to the light. However, as long as we are in the world, there are possibilities of its influence on our lives. Look at the social media, movies, advertisements, clubs and so on and so forth, it is easy to be compromised than to be transformed. It seems to me that many of our lives are mostly influenced by what we see in movies and many other types of media that lead us to be discontent. But scripture says in 1Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

4.WALK WITH A PERFECT HEART

We read in Ps.101:2, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Our heart is the seat of all kinds of wickedness, but God’s desire for us is to have a pure heart. We can probably hide many things from man, but everything is naked and open before the Lord. The above verse specifically talks about the condition of my heart ‘within my house...’ We are who we are in the family. When your heart is pure you will have an unbeatable confidence. A true testimony of a person can come from within the family - husband, wife, and children. Here Psalmist decides to walk within the house with a pure heart and to cleave to any wicked things. Parents’ activities within the house are carefully observed by the children and they do the exact same things because children always model their activities after their parent’s.

5.FOLLOW THE FOOTSTEPS OF CHRIST.

Apostle Peter says, “Christ has left us an example that we should follow His steps” 1 Pet. 2:21. Peter urges his readers to make Jesus as an example for their way of life. We read in the gospels that Jesus was very obedient to His parents and grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Though He lived in a hostile world, His life was pleasing to God and man. Though He was tempted, but was victorious. He moved with compassion, healing the sick and restoring the weak. His message to the world was love and peace. When we follow the footsteps of Christ, we walk in the light and darkness will not have any influence over us. This will help us to discern what’s right and wrong, what’s pleasing and acceptable to God.

Let me conclude here. Having analyzed a few Bible verses, we can decide on the types of entertainments which are permissible. The quality of your spiritual life is decided on the basis of the depth of our intimacy with God. If we desire to have a closer walk with God, prayer and reading of the Word is indispensable. When we pray, we talk to God and when we read His Word, God talks to us.

Thus we will be able to cultivate a deep relationship with God. I am of the view that, when we are serious on nurturing intimacy with God, everything else will be secondary. Then it won’t be any more a struggle on how to balance both entertainment and intimacy with God, but it will be either entertainment or intimacy with God. When we are drawn close to God and so intimate with God, He will give us the grace to face our daily challenges.

The Bible says in Philippians 2:15 “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”.