We’ve established that fun—which I’ve defined as comprising pleasure and rest—is good, in that God engages in such activities and commends them for his people. But Scripture also indicates that humans have a remarkable propensity for turning good things into bad things, and we can all think of ways that people have entertained themselves that are clearly unacceptable.
So it’s worth trying to derive some simple principles, based in Scripture, to help us evaluate the ways we choose our pleasures and our ways to relax.
Really? Do we have to be that obsessive about how we choose to have fun?
Well, I wouldn’t call it obsessive—that word implies that there’s something mentally unhealthy about it. I’d prefer to call it being thoughtful, in the sense of thinking carefully about how we steward our lives, our bodies, and our time.
The Scripture famously says,
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1Co 10.31).
That says, among other things, that
- We ought to have a purpose for everything in our lives; nothing is purposeless, mindless, or “just entertainment”;
- That purpose is outside, or beyond, ourselves; we have other things to consider besides just what we want to do.
So yes, we ought to give thought to how we have fun. I don’t apologize for saying that.
Now, to implement this kind of thinking, we need to begin by defining a key term: what does it means to “do all to the glory of God”? What brings him glory?
I would suggest that honoring him should involve caring about his goals, his purposes. And he tells us what his goal for us as his people is:
Them who are the called according to his purpose, … he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son (Ro 8.28-29).
Without getting distracted by the arguments about predestination, we can safely conclude that God’s purpose or goal for us is that we be like his Son. Our lives should be a process of becoming increasingly like Jesus.
That’s the Prime Directive.
Everything we do should be purposely chosen for that end.
As a simple illustration, if a sitcom makes me laugh at sin, I can’t think to myself, “Oh, lighten up; it’s just a joke!”
In a life patterned after 1 Corinthians 10.31, nothing is ever “just a joke.”
I’m not suggesting that we should be somber and joyless; but I am arguing that our laughter, which should be abundant, should also be purposeful, should be about things that the Son would enjoy sharing with us.
Recently I had dinner with a group gathered in a midwestern city for a conference of Christian educators. There were 11 of us seated around a large table, and over good food we told stories of teaching and other ministry experiences, and we laughed until our sides hurt. Some of us were closer friends than others, but by the end of the evening we all were united by the simple delight of the experience. No observer would have thought that anyone at the table was a stick in the mud.
What a joy such an experience is. What memories it cements in our minds.
Now eating and telling tales and laughing is not the only way to have fun. As beings in the image of God, we are creative, and over the centuries people have come up with all sorts of ways to entertain themselves. And in the future there will be many, many more. Delight in such things is a gift from God.
Let’s think for a few posts about how to experience such delights in ways that move us toward being like the Son.