Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To be entertained? Or is it Reverence?

 Nielson studies indicate that the average American watches television 34 hours each week. A university professor,s study shows that Americans spend eight hours per month on Facebook. The earth's population spends 3 billion hours per week playing videogames. The New York Times says teens listen to 2-1/2 hours of music each day. Then we have ballgames, board games, cards, gambling, concerts, amusement parks, swimming pools, boats, motorcyles, jogging, bicycling, and the list goes on. America loves to be entertained. When people aren't productively working it seems that they are being entertained! 
My question? Why do we have to entertain people at church? Sure, we are to have "joy" in the Lord, but joy isn't the same as entertainment!  Joy is intense happiness. What then is happiness? I like "enthusiastic satisfaction"!   Pleasure is associated with entertainment. Pleasure is amusement and fun. Hence, we compare intense satisfaction with fun. Which is your cup-o-tea? Does the Lord prefer entusiastic satisfaction on our part or merely amusement?
Isaiah 29:19 "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
The meek (Godly) shall have increased joy! The poor shall rejoice (feel joy) in the Holy One (God)!
Now, how about pleasure? Yes, we can have "pleasure in the Lord". It's a pleasure for us that he provides for all our needs and comforts. However, there's a big difference between enjoying the pleasures of God and the pleasures of the flesh.
Romans 1:31 "Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
These verses basically identify fleshly pleasures.  The particular ones named do not specifically mention entertainment, which doesn't have to be wicked, but duplicates what the pagans do.
Acts 14:15 " And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
"Suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" refers to paganism. Pagans were engulfed with pleasure. Their religious worship was even celebrated with sexual and epicurean activities. If you'll remember, even the Jews fleeing Egypt copied their captors. They danced ecstatically and elevated a golden calf to idol status. 
On the other hand David stripped to his civies and cavorted in dance, being joyous to the Lord!  In the context in which I'm writing, the contrast between worldly pleasure and joy in the Lord, is at the heart of the argument! How far should we go to entertain in the church or should we even?
I propose that we consider this verse:
Palm 34:3 "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together."
The question I'll ask is: Does the church service predominantly magnify the Lord or is it more to provide pleasure to the congregation, remembering that magnifying the Lord provides joy and pleasure is more directed at the senses?
The church is a sanctuary. A sanctuary from the world!  Exodus 25:8 "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."  A "sanctuary" is a sacred reserved space. The church is God's sanctuary. In that church we ought to escape the world. It's a place dedicated to God, not to us!
In that thought is my argument!  God's sanctuary, the church, is Holy Ground. We gather there to magnify God! It's not a place to pleasure ourselves, but to provide the aroma of praise to God! It's not a concert arena... it's where the Holy One comes to be praised!

Exodus 3:4 "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 5 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Leviticus 19:30 "Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord."

Have "reverence". That means we are to have profound respect for and admiration for God. We gather in His sanctuary to hold God in awe! Self-interest is put aside for awhile and the focus is on God (with the exception of our own salvation).

My thoughts are that if the media used by the church is to primarily to provide pleasure to the listener rather than to magnify the Lord, then it's not reverent. I don't believe it's necessary to present God's Holy Word in a "fun" manner. It's insulting to the maturity of the listener in my humble opinion and presents a glossy version of subject matter. I see no reason that a Christian child or adult cannot put fun away for less than an hour to learn about a Holy God. 

For hundreds of years people have learned and learned with enthusiasm just for the joy of learning. They did without skits and other extraneous techniques, but reached into the depths of the subject matter. The "fun" part of the lesson is often time consuming and non-value added. Oftentimes, secular methods are used to provide the "fun in learning".  Scripture should be presented in a manner to bestow all due respect on a Holy God! That means to take the time to be serious and stoic for just an hour a week. I  guarantee that you can learn more and that sincerity will be a sweet incense to the Lord!

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