♣ Entertainment’s Deterrent
“Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy.” – Leonard Ravenhill
THE NEED AND desire to incorporate entertainment in the church to appeal, draw and keep the crowds is one of the greatest hindrances assailing modern Christianity.
What has and will be stated here is by no means equating every church or Christian in the same light; this is in general terms, the overall average facts of the majority in comparison to the minority. I thank God for what He is doing in and through the lives of His faithful servants; in various places amidst widespread apostasy, the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to go forth in power. However, that number is few and far between and the need for more faithful labourers, envisioned with God’s purposes, is one of the imperative needs of the hour.
The jewel and glory of God’s presence is lacking when we digress to the aggrandisement of worship groups/bands, comedians, drama, sporting events and movies to invigorate church meetings. We are so adept in justifying a plethora of ‘Christianised’ activities, but the truth of the matter is, when we divert to such ways we have lost our first love. Listen to Christ’s description of the church in Sardis: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1). On what account are many churches lively today? What drives a church? What attracts the crowds? A church may be very active, yet prove to be one of great inactivity in the will of God: “On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and do mighty works in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).
Of course, on the other side of the spectrum, there are churches that refuse to incorporate any form of entertainment, even to the imbalance of prohibiting the use of technology in their gatherings. Their doctrine and mode of worship may be moderate, decent and orderly, thinking they are pleasing to God, but in all actuality, there is not the slightest detection of God being present. It is just sheer dry, methodical traditionalism that not only drives one to boredom but spiritual indifference and insanity. Even after such ‘sacrifices’, they have missed the wood for the trees; they lack the presence of God that truly characterises the true body of Christ.
Do we not also find a form of this dryness in some reformed churches gifted with some of the finest orators? I don’t say preachers because preachers are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit; preachers speak the oracles of God and hearts are changed. In relevance to the subject, I would add here that the devil has no need to add fire to the prosperity gospel; it runs pretty much by itself. I hear of many still discussing and exposing the likes of Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland as if it’s the latest vogue in mainstream heresy. Such notoriety is a foregone conclusion. What is surprising is that some churches still adhere to the preposterous ‘health, wealth and prosperity’ gospel after having been stripped of its validity and credibility decades ago. In all probability, where the devil is most likely to be active is amidst the new wave of people thirsting for reformed theology (and I thank God that some are turning away from wishy-washy charismatic churches to a reformed perspective; they are hungering for truth) but going no further than the letter of truth. They can be well furnished with the soundest Biblical doctrine; they may be in churches adorned with balanced, structured teaching and conferences gilded with ‘gold’ just like Solomon’s temple furnished with nothing but the finest materials with everything set in place as directed – but without the presence of God, it is incomplete and pointless. Without the glory of God’s presence in our churches, we are dead churches. There is nothing more grievous than to sit under well-grounded biblical exposition while a consciousness of God being near is lacking and it is sheer travesty to sit under faultless doctrine while the prayer meetings have no life in them whatsoever. Prayer meetings are the spiritual pulse of a church; there you will find how much life courses through the whole body. The devil succeeds when he keeps hearts content to abound in head knowledge without the yearning for and experience of God’s presence; the two are inseparable for a balanced Christian walk.
Westernised Christendom has been programmed with the requirement and use of aids to assist many in approaching God, whereas the truth of Scripture reveals that the way has already been opened to boldly, reverently and sincerely approach the living God. It is the Holy Spirit Who aids us to rightly approach God. No paraphernalia to ‘assist’ or evoke the presence of God will renew a right spirit within us, but God Himself alone. God said He will be found by those who seek Him diligently; the genuine yearning heart will not relent in pursuing God until He is found. To be renewed in the spirit of our minds will disassemble all that we may have been wrongly fed and all that we have been accustomed to relying on as ‘needful’ resources.
If God were to truly descend among us in our meetings (and this is not confined to the New Testament era; revivals alone vouch for that), we would abhor and despise ourselves for all the gimmickry and merchandising in the name of God. When Job saw the Lord he abhorred himself; when Isaiah saw the Lord, he was undone. Look at the revivals over 100 years ago where God truly moved; was there the need for entertainment? Is there one instance where the early church integrated entertainment in their gatherings? They didn’t because God was present. It is preposterous to insinuate that entertainment lacked finesse back in those days; God transcended it!
Entertainment in the church is the golden calf of 21st Century Christianity. As these amusing enterprises have increased in the church, so the presence of God has decreased to the point where many have erected a god of their own imagination that is so foreign to the Scriptures. Many stop at entertainment and equate such ecstatic feelings of euphoria with God Himself. Are our churches spiritually prosperous as a result of it? Does the world look at the church knowing there is a distinctive Presence about it? This is entertainment’s deterrent, a hindrance that robs Christians of true joy, peace and strength in the Holy Spirit, which in turn invalidates their testimony to a lost world heading fast for an inconceivable eternal agony.
The Church is called to enter the presence of God, not to be entertained. The need for amusement in the church is man’s attempt to manufacture God and much of what is assumed to be the presence of God is nothing more than mere emotionalism. Natural talent has substituted the anointing of God, making the Church stagnant – and if we think the true Church is always doing just fine, then why on earth did Christ severely warn the five churches in Revelation?
Prior to the Hebridean revival, the unconverted youth frequently attended the dancehalls (the equivalent to today’s nightclubs), but when God got a hold of their hearts, they often met together and prayed in the presence of God until the early hours of morning. They wanted nothing more than the unseen world to be more tangibly real than the world around them; they were touched and transformed with the glory and majesty of God! We can’t get our youth today to even pray for one hour without their minds drifting off onto more ‘exiting’ pursuits, and the reason for that is because the majority of our churches today have not seen the glory of God. It is the kind of vision that truly separates believers from the world because they are born of and inhabited by a heavenly realm.
The sad reality is that many will continue embracing a variety of church-amusement instead of getting down to seeking God with all their heart – with no aids to deter ‘boredom’ – until He comes. It may take weeks and months until God makes His presence known; are we prepared to wait and persevere in prayer? Are we willing to give up substituting shallow entertainment for God Himself? Are we prepared to be shaken until all that remains cannot be shaken? Are we prepared for our lives, as with the original disciples of Christ, to be turned upside-down by the glory of God? Friends, until that happens we have no hope whatsoever in turning the world upside by the reality and power of the Gospel. When God has all of us then there will be no limit as to what He will do through us for His glory.
Posted on June 7, 2013, in ♣ Devotional and tagged Benny Hinn, Christianised activities, consciousness of God, devotional, ecstatic, Entertainment: golden calf of 21st Century Christianity, Entertainment’s Deterrent, euphoria, gimmickry, glory of God’s presence, God's purposes, health, Hebridean revival, hindrances, Kenneth Copeland, Leonard Ravenhill, Mark Anthony Williams, Matthew 7:22-23, merchandising God, Revelation 3:1, wealth and prosperity gospel, widespread apostasy, yearning for God's presence. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.