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Perspective, Entertainment, and the Lordship of Christ

Monday, May 13, 2013 | Comments (7)

by John MacArthur

How do we make biblical decisions about entertainment? God’s Word doesn’t say anything specific about what kinds of movies or TV we should watch, or what kinds of music we should listen to. In the absence of explicit biblical instructions, how do we determine what kinds of entertainment are acceptable?

Those are questions most believers face today. In our media-saturated culture, we’re bombarded with entertainment choices and encouraged to pursue every fleeting interest. But how do we submit those choices to the Lord? In light of our salvation and our new nature in Him, how ought we view the endless options for entertainment?

We’ve been considering some biblical principles to help us make God-glorifying decisions when it comes to entertainment. Specifically, we’ve been looking at the nature of Christ’s lordship and how submission to Him ought to shape our entertainment choices. Last week we saw how His lordship demands good stewardship, denounces impurity and worldliness, and determines right priorities. To close out this discussion today we’re going to see how the lordship of Christ defines a proper perspective.

Right priorities and godly passions stem out of a proper perspective—a heavenly mindset that understands eternal realities and interprets this life accordingly. If this world were all there was, we would be wise to amass treasure and search for happiness in the here and now.

But that is not reality; this world is not all there is.

Reality, as revealed by the truth of Scripture, encompasses much more than the temporal pleasures, priorities, and pursuits of this world. God is real. His Word is real. Heaven and hell are real. The gospel is real. Jesus is real. His death, resurrection, and ascension are all real—as is His soon return. The brevity of this life and the certainty of death are real. The threat of eternal destruction is real, as is the promise of future reward.

In contrast, the world of entertainment is not real. In fact, most entertainment is about escaping from reality, not portraying it accurately.

As Christians, our worldview must be grounded in reality, not in the imaginary worlds of Hollywood. People can deny reality, and they can distract themselves with fantasy, but they cannot change the fact that one day they will stand before God (Hebrews 9:27). At that moment, the riches, pleasures, and accomplishments of this world will be of no use to them.

The parable of the rich fool is a striking example of this type of foolhardy shortsightedness. Jesus tells the story in Luke 12:16-21:

The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Jesus’ words ring as a wake-up call for those who profess to know God and yet live as though God were no more real than whatever movie they watched last night. For those who keep hitting the spiritual snooze button, it is time to wake up and focus on what really matters (cf. Romans 13:11). As Christians, our perspective must be eternal in scope. And entertainment, though enjoyable in the moment, is not eternal.

(Adapted from Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.)


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#1  Posted by Rod Evans  |  Monday, May 13, 2013at 4:51 AM

Thank you on behalf of everyone reading this blog not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, but treasures in heaven. The sad and tragic reality is that most people spend their lives building bigger barns, so to speak. And they come to the end of their lives losing it all and wind up in eternal hell awaiting God's white throne judgement.

What a blessing it is to know that it doesn't have to be like that! The sinner can repent of their sin by just asking the Holy Spirit to wash them clean and make them anew by the regeneration of the Word. Putting their faith and trust in Christ who died on our behalf, not only to satisfy God's wrath against sin, but so that we can be freely justified by His grace alone.

All who read this with a repentant mind and ask for God to be merciful to them, the sinner, then your treasure is now in Christ Jesus; because as a slave in Christ, you can enjoy His treasure granted to you! Lay up for yourselves treasure that isn't corruptible where moths destroy and thieves break in and steal. I pray that God will allow all who read this to come to the table of salvation with "nothing in thy hand I bring, only to the cross I cling." May Christ's death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit's work of conviction of sin, righteousness and judgement, and the Father's predestined plan be granted to your understanding savingly!

#2  Posted by Jonathan Albert  |  Monday, May 13, 2013at 6:43 AM

I agree with these things, and I have been attempting to sever myself from passing pleasures and take my delight in God, however, I am minded to write a Christian fantasy novel (or perhaps even more than one). I know that worldly entertainment is of no use, and fables really have no place, but what about things like Pilgrim's Progress? Should I continue to spend my time on something that pulls literary attention away from the Bible, even if I am attempting to glorify God and point to the Bible in it?

#3  Posted by Brad Weidenhammer  |  Monday, May 13, 2013at 9:41 AM

I am saddened by the fact this whole series of blogs on entertainment has to be written. It speaks volumes on the spiritual maturity of us who call ourselves Christian.

Is it not obvious what is worldly and therefore to be shunned? Yet we need to be warned time and time again to flee from sin. How sad it is that we are so engrossed in the idols of Hollywood and celebrities. Even a cursory reading of scripture should make it clear what is good and what is evil.

The world, the flesh and the devil are having their way.

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life are having their way - yes - in our churches.

How sad.

We should be hanging our heads in shame as I have for my own personal sin.

Although I admire JMAC and his ministry greatly, we really should not be dependant on him for this kind of discernment.

Having said that, I am glad he has posted these blogs to wake us up out of our spiritual lethargy to pursue holiness, fixing our eyes on things above and not on the garbage our culture is currently promoting.

#4  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Monday, May 13, 2013at 2:01 PM

(3), Not all of the redeemed are at the same level of spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14), lest you forget what the church at Colossae had to be reminded of, (Colossians 3:7 and Colossians 3:12-17).

#5  Posted by Joseph Wade  |  Monday, May 13, 2013at 3:00 PM

What a life changing series! Every time I turn on the TV I'm convicted immediately about what is I'm about to watch, and also what I'm exposing my family to. I thank God for Pastor John's rich teaching on how we use our time. I think it's important to note, this includes time used on the internet and phone. Instead of spending 3 hours a night watching TV or being on the internet, there is a lot more time for prayer, reading together, actually talking about spiritual issues. God is faithful because over the course of this blog, we don't miss it, the Bible and family time is far greater then the any entertainment.

#6  Posted by Suzie Tors  |  Wednesday, May 15, 2013at 8:10 AM

I have also noticed that more and more people are walking around focused on their phones...but what really surprised me was considering how much time I've spent lately watching TV, and you're right, it's time wasted.

Starting today, I'm turning it off for 30 days. I'll let you know how my life changes!

#7  Posted by Reimund Krohn  |  Sunday, May 19, 2013at 8:03 AM

Good morning Johnathan,

You have said that you are "minded" to write a Christian novel, and I would say that what matters most is where that thought or inclination or desire comes from. The Holy Spirit can indeed lead you to use the talents you have been given to glorify the Lord - or it can be your flesh working for it's own glorification using religion as an excuse. No one here can tell you which is the case; but through prayer and focus on our Lord, I know He can make that known to you.

John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress", or C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" are fictional works of godly men which may be used to teach the truths found in Scripture. The Lord Jesus Himself likewise used the fiction of parables to teach deeper truths. On the other hand, our local Christian Bookstore has shelves full of horror and murder mystery novels whose sole expression of 'Christianity' is perhaps only a character with vaguely spiritual ideas. Such books enlighten no one, and frankly only glorify the god of this age. Be mindful of that when you write - and pray for His leading in all things. You will best know His voice when you focus on His Word. Ensure that what you write leads others to Him, and represents Him and His Holy standard. It is an awesome thing to be used by Him to speak for Him. It is a fearful thing to misrepresent Him.

In peace brother, may the Lord faithfully lead you, and give you ears to hear.