Entertainment

If we are Christians does that mean we must completely abandon entertainment?  If we love entertainment does that mean we must abandon Jesus? Some hear the word entertainment and avoid it like a flu shot.  Others pursue entertainment like a Golden Retriever pursues a tennis ball.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a manual called, How to Balance God and Entertainment in Three Steps?

Unfortunately, there is no three-step manual to this question; there is an answer, however.  While Jesus never said, “live in the world, but not of the world,” He has been attributed for saying as much in a conversation He had with His closest friends in John 17.  Many hear this phrase and think, “Oh great, Jesus is asking me to live under a rock!”  Others hear the phrase and think, “I can see, hear, do, and use whatever entertainment I want to because Jesus said to live in the world.”

I have often struggled to find a balance between the two attitudes and have come to realize that neither extreme is healthy.  I think what Jesus meant is to come out from the proverbial rock, but not to be molded, shaped, or controlled by the world.  It’s a fine line to walk, especially as it relates to entertainment.  Living in isolation from entertainment and not living as a slave to entertainment isn’t easy, but it is possible.

What to do:

Remember the goal in balancing God and entertainment.  There have been times in my life when I have completely avoided entertainment I knew to be inappropriate, because I lacked discernment and maturity.  Instead, I tried to focus on entertainment that reflected the virtues described in Philippians 4:8-9.  I tried to watch whatever was true, or pure, or admirable.  This did not restrict my watching reading and listening to only Christian stuff.  It just meant I tried to focus on entertainment that drew me closer to God.

Realize what Satan is up to.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14, “But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  When I was older, I realized Satan can imbed sugar coated lies about God or about myself in entertainment.  For example, I love country music.  Over time, I discovered not all country lyrics are true about falling in love with someone I just met, or that I must be extremely hot to be valued.  As long as I realized this truth, I could still enjoy listening to country music without allowing it to detract from my relationship with God by believing everything I heard just as 1 John 4:1 says: “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear.”

Engage with entertainment. The latter half of 1 John 4:1 goes on to say, ” Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you.”  When I became more mature, I took a worldview class which helped me  able to analyze entertainment from a Biblical perspective.  1 Thessalonians 5:21 points out, “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.”  Instead of remaining unengaged with entertainment I was able to test what was being said from a director, song writer, or even Twitter user. For example, a couple years ago, I fell in love with superhero movies.  Using the worldview analysis, I discovered superheroes share many of God’s personality traits such as salvation, courage, and power (obviously).  Moreover, the need for a superhero is something we, as humans, deeply desire.  My analysis did not stop there, however.  I also uncovered underlying themes about death, the human condition, spirituality, survival, and power were misconstrued.

Take regular self-checks.  “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (Romans 8:6).  Social media can enslave me which is why I frequently take social media timeouts.  Taking a break from social media lets me test myself to see  how much social media use occurs on a daily basis.  This also goes for music.  I can always tell if I listen to too much music by how I feel when I take a days’ break.

Make the choice.  Far be it from me to lay down the law on what you should and should not watch, read, listen to, and do.  Yes, breathe a sigh of relief, but before you think you are off the hook, ask yourself these questions:  Do I understand the underlying message?  Do I know where I stand on this message?  How does my stance influence my response?  Based on my response, do I proceed, take a step back, or proceed with caution?  How does this influence the way I think about myself?  How does this influence the way I feel about God?  The answer to these questions will impact your relationship with God.

It’s a fine line to walk–living in isolation from entertainment and not living as a slave to entertainment. Keeping the goal of drawing closer to God, being aware of Satan’s ability to disguise bad entertainment as good, actively engaging with entertainment using Biblical analysis, self-checking social media use, and making choices that positively influence our relationship with God can help us “live in the world, but not of the world.”

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