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Christian Recreation vs. Worldly Entertainment

(1 Timothy 4:8,9; Ephesians 5:15-21; Romans 13:12-14; Colossians 3:17)

Lesson 13 -- second quarter 2001
May 27, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Why entertain ourselves or play or "recreate"?

The issue of Christian recreation can be a puzzling one, at least when it comes to figuring out what is proper for us to do in such times. I don't propose here to itemize what you may and may not do (as though that were my job!). However, it seems to me that if we identify motives for recreation, we will also have set up some guidelines as to what constitutes proper recreation for the believer.

Health. We have all seen the him along the highway: glistening with sweat, clearly exhausted, striving to continue running but barely able to muster locomotion that would pass for jogging. Look in his face and you know he isn't having fun. So what motivates him? Though he could possibly be a racer in training, he is more likely pursuing some sort of health benefit. The same could be true for such activities as biking, walking, canoeing, skiing, and certain other sports. At the other end of the exertion scale, some who have extremely active lives may choose to read, travel, knit or pursue some other sedentary activity for their physical and mental health. Of course not everything that might be done for health reasons would be proper for a Christian, but you get the idea. And it certainly isn't proper for the child of God to elevate physical fitness and health to a place of unhealthy priority in our lives. (What that is is another discussion!)

Pleasure. Because of the increasing focus of American society on pleasure, doing something just for fun or enjoyment sounds somewhat negative. However, as Christians, we should beware of despising or minimizing our God-given capacity for pleasure. I believe this can be a proper, godly motive for recreation and entertainment. If we lower our guard, though, our flesh will soon magnify this beyond the bounds of acceptability. In a Christian way, it's fun to have fun, but you have to know how.

Distraction. I wonder how many people pursue recreation as a means to escape life and its responsibilities and realities. They can't deal with certain problems or challenges, so they distract themselves with their choice of entertainment. Such living is wrong. Nonetheless, I believe God approves when we purposefully but occasionally distract ourselves with a book, trip, game or other diversion. In such cases, the motivation is more a break than an escape.

But you can go overboard on the good side of this!

True. Then again, you can also be on a boat and end up going overboard. And have you ever paused to ponder that untold thousands of people have fallen off bicycles? Or what about this sobering fact: swallowing too much water will kill anybody, even you! Despite these serious hazards, I know of no religious or civic effort to ban boats, bicycles and water.

What about computer games?

Many computer games are great fun. But that doesn't make them wrong. Many computer games are quite absorbing. That doesn't necessarily make them wrong either. Many computer games are extremely time consuming. Does that make them wrong? Many computer games are very realistic. What about that? Many computer games are entirely anti-social and self-focused. Good or bad?

Any kind of electronic entertainment poses a unique threat to our full-person well-being. Beware! Better to do with none or very little. I know.

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