Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Entertainment”

October 30, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #140 “When Morning Gilds the Skies” & #47 “Fairest Lord Jesus”

Testimonies – What’s some way that you have seen God moving in our body lately?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

So we’re basically talking about holiness, how we as God’s people, saved by grace, are to think and act differently from the world around us. We’re aliens and strangers. Which means we will stand out, be weird, yet in a way that is winsome, still engaged with the world. Jesus wants us to understand the world, to be savvy with the world, without getting sucked into the world in the least. Totally in, totally different. There are people who are totally weird because they live in a bubble. Then there are Christians who say, “We need to get out of the bubble,” but then start absorbing the world’s ethos. We want to stay weird, but be winsome.

That means we live under God’s authority and for his glory, in a world that lives from Self and for Self. It means we’ll be winsomely weird in the way we talk and relate. It means we won’t get drunk with wine or high on pot, but be filled with the Spirit. And last week we saw that we will be a winsomely weird community in the way that we care for the weak and vulnerable and those that the world sees no value in; we care about all of life from the womb to the tomb. And we will die differently than the world does. We will die in peace, trusting God, okay with weakness and dependence. That’s a major way we will be weird to the world.

Today we’re talking about entertainment. This one is so important because it’s probably the primary instrument that the world uses to promote worldliness. We must be thoughtful here. Leland Ryken wrote a book a while back called Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure. In it he lamented that often “we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” We’re all mixed up. So let’s try to think clearly about this topic.

Work

First, we need to establish that we were made to work. Work is good. God created the world and made humans in his image to cultivate it and care for it. That is the genesis of every valid profession. We are to be active creating, cultivating, organizing, operating… This is supposed to take up the bulk of our time.

There are all the admonitions in the Proverbs against laziness (i.e. Prov. 26:13-16). There are statements in Paul’s writings like: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1Thess. 4:11). “We hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2Thess. 3:11-12).

So a good chunk of our time must be taken up with work. Work is not an unfortunate thing, a necessary evil, but it’s good and God-honoring. I hope to talk more about this on another night. But let me just add: when we work, we should work hard and buckle down and focus so that work doesn’t expand and creep into all of our life because we’re also supposed to rest.

Rest

The Bible puts a limit to work to keep us human and humble; to keep us from thinking that we are just machines and that we are able to keep the universe running ourselves. God puts limits to work. The most obvious is the Sabbath – one day in seven to cease your productivity and enjoy (i.e. Ex. 20:8). But also yearly rhythms of celebrating (Lev. 23:33-36). And also the daily need for sleep. By and large, he made the day for work and the night for sleep (Mk. 4:27). Psalm 127:2 – “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” God made us to need sleep, to remind us that we’re not God and as way to declare our trust in God to keep the world spinning (he does not slumber or sleep; Ps. 121:4). Most of us need 7-8 hours a day to function well.

So two main categories to our days: Work and Rest. We keep them separate and balanced; the world blends them and has them all out of whack (i.e. workaholics or playaholics). But if we work, let’s say 12 hours a day on average (I’m including in that your job, housework, making meals, giving kids baths, etc…) and sleep 8 hours a day, that leaves roughly 4 waking hours in a day in the category of Rest. How are we to use that time as believers in ways that are weird to the world? Time when we’re not ‘getting things done’; let’s call this sub-category of Rest – Leisure.

Bible Reading, Prayer, Meditation. Christians spend time regularly and daily focusing on the Lord. This is weird to the world. Remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that the way we give of our finances limits the disposable income we have to spend on things like alcohol? So just won’t be able to drink like the world because we give away a significant percentage of our money. It’s similar here. We spend a significant portion of our leisure time reading the Bible, praying, meditating, which simply means we will not have as much time for the other stuff.

Similarly, we are committed to a community. So we will be at Sunday gatherings and Midweek Meetings. That’s takes time. And beyond that there is relationship building – meeting up with a brother or sister for accountability, encouragement, fellowship. Calling and checking in. Bringing a meal. Working on relationships with spouses, roommates, kids, parents, friends… We’re always thinking of each other, even in our leisure time, whereas the world is thinking of Leisure time as Me Time.

Then with what’s left, what are some other good uses of our Leisure??

Exercise/Physical Activity.

Hobbies. I encourage you to try to use your hobbies for fellowship and/or evangelism…

Read. When is the last time you’ve read a book? How about a book that stirred your soul and strengthened your faith? When are you going to do that? Paul writes to Timothy – “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books” (2Tim. 4:13). Listen to Spurgeon on that verse:

Even an apostle must read…. He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! [….This] is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books” – join in the cry.

Diversify your leisure.

And what about Me Time? Can I have any time to just totally unplug and relax and have a diversion, some mindless break from all the exhaustion? Well… It depends. Unplug, but not from Christ. Relax, enjoy a non-utilitarian pursuit, but not apart from Christ. A break for the mind, but can never turn the mind totally off. What about Self-Care, which is all the rage in the world today? Didn’t Jesus withdraw to desolate places by himself when exhausted? Yes! We need time away. But look at Mark 6:30… First off, their Me Time was We Time… But what happened to it? It got interrupted. So, yes, you can take time away, but don’t make of it an idol; don’t let it become an excuse to be selfish; and see it in the larger picture of replenishing you for a return to greater engagement and service.

And now here’s what is in my mind the area we need to think through the most: what about Screen Time? We live in a world largely dominated by the image and the screen: tv and phones. Discussions about Entertainment in the past were geared around the theater, the coliseum, the pool hall… stuff you had to go to. But now we have access to entertainment at our finger tips 24/7. It distracts us at work. It keeps us from sleep. And it seeks to dominates our leisure time.

If you have kids or when you have kids, do you want them to not know what an iPad is? No. But do you want them to watch iPad all the time? No. Why do we limit screen time for our kids? Because it may make your life easier for an hour, but it makes them more selfish, whiny, discontent, bored, less imaginative… In excess, screen time sucks life out of kids and rots their brains.

And it can do the same with us. A quick look at Twitter can turn into 30 minutes easily and it can make you more anxious. Scrolling through Instagram makes you jealous of other people’s lives. Surfing YouTube reduces your attention span. Binging on Netflix numbs you to the real world. It’s alarming when the goal of our days, the thing we’re looking forward to is: get home and get the kids in bed so I can watch my show. We need to be very careful with the amount of time we watch. The world is watching a lot of Screen Time; we should be weird.

Entertainment is by nature Self-focused. It’s designed to serve you. You don’t have to do anything to make it happen, just sit back and passively be pleased. Is that always wrong? No. But we must be careful that it doesn’t feed Selfishness.

A lot of those same questions we asked with substance you take into your body, are good questions to ask with what we take into our eyes and minds: is it legal, is it necessary, is it good, is it healthy, is it an addiction, intoxicating, an idol, wise?

Some more suggestions for our Screen Time:

Do it with others. What if we were watching some of the same shows and then discussing them? So it wasn’t just a private thing. What if we even turned our watching into social get-togethers? We do it for the Super Bowl, why not other shows? At the very least what if you watched with your spouse or your roommates, so there was accountability and it didn’t isolate but brought together?

Do it for others. Watch what your co-workers are talking about to understand them. Watch what gets nominated for Oscars to be able to engage the world.

Do it with God. Always, do everything with a conscious awareness of God’s presence. You can’t turn your mind off and veg and passively take in what Hollywood is feeding you. You have to think critically. Measure everything by God’s Word. If there is common grace there, praise God. If there is beauty there, worship God. If there is sin there, hate it and thank God for forgiveness and the promise of a new world without sin. Turn it all back to God. Watch it as a Christian, filtering everything through the lens of Scripture.

We’ve been watching Disney’s Liv and Maddie as a family lately. Thinking about this upcoming talk I started having everyone share a biblical principle (positive or negative) that they saw illustrated in an episode. Andrea and I have been watching The West Wing for the last couple years. It’s a well-written show that has lessons about leadership, work, relationships… but it’s also trying to shape the way you think about social issues. We have to be discerning…

And what is off-limits? Pornography. Game of Thrones? VidAngel. …

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Politics…

Prayer – If you had to pick one of these, which of the following would you prefer to do tonight before bed: (1) Watch a re-run of Parks & Rec; (2) watch the World Series Game 7; (3) play Super Smash Brothers; (4) or listen to Kanye’s new album. Get together in those groups and pray…

Repent of ways that you have had more of an appetite for the things of this world than Christ…

Pray that we would look carefully how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16)…

Pray that we would learn how to understand the longings and brokenness of this world and better connect them to Christ for people…