Vol. 7, No. 10
~ Page 9 ~
Not long ago a young man (a teenage Christian) was asked where he went to "church" (meaning worship). He responded: "I go to (name of the church), but if I could find a "church" (he meant a congregation) where I could have more fun I would go there." This statement represents a very pitiful condition that is all too prevailing in our time, in a society that is said to be the most "entertainment oriented society" in history.
There is nothing wrong with good, wholesome entertainment in moderation. But when it becomes so prevalent as to contaminate or interrupt spiritual obligations and worship activities, then the very nature of genuine Christianity is compromised with the profane. Both the person who demands to be entertained at "church" and the "church" that is willing to entertain is not worthy of the name Christian and the demands of Christianity. How despicable would these appear in the eyes of those souls under the altar,"those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9)? How could any right-thinking person in an entertainment mode appear in worship at the foot of the cross in the presence of the anguishing Christ? The genuine Christian life is not an easy one; in fact, it can be (and has been at times) exceedingly harsh, as the above quote indicates. And at the best, it has always been a very serious matter.
The misconception at the time of conversion of Christianity being an easy life, full of joy, free of hardships, expressible in personally appealing worship formats and Christian service, allows the worldly entertainment mindset to be transferred to the Christian life of service and worship. Often the Gospel call for a sinner's conversion is made with the promise of great joy and spiritual benefits (and rightfully so), but without emphasizing the associated obligations, weariness of labor and sorrow. This gets the newly born convert off to a false start, a start that has to be propped up very soon with ongoing entertainment gimmicks. That sinner was not converted to a dedicated life of service that often is accompanied with hardships, to worship that "bows down and kisses toward" Jehovah God, exclusive of the artificial hype that stirs the spirit, often sparked by "church" sponsored entertainment gimmicks. Consequently, that converted sinner will search for where this artificial motivation can be found!
A proper and true conversion mindset prepares the person for worship and service to God out of humility and loyalty that pours out of genuine devotion, a mindset that does not demand or depend on the hype of spirit stirring entertainment. Every converted sinner needs to have come to the following all-important spiritual understanding: "For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:28). The Philippians' rejoicing, as was Paul's rejoicing (cf. Acts 20:24), was that they not only had been "granted" (given the privilege) to believe in Christ but also to suffer for Christ's sake. Those Christian in Philippi were, Paul said, "having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me" (Philippians 1:29) and they were gladly enduring it, not being motivated through the hype of entertainment but by the royal privilege granted to them to suffer for Christ's sake. How differently would be the content of many religious services today (and the dedication of many worshipers) if that were the mindset of all Christians!
What should we expect, especially in the short term, to be the mindset of many converts? We do not see a major improvement, because many "churches" are accommodating the insatiable desire of the people to be entertained, to be drawn by gimmicks, theatrics, special music, dramatization and whatever can be conjured up in fertile minds to be a "drawing card" that appeals to an entertainment oriented society. Let it be understood, and never forgotten, that when the pure Gospel of the grace of Jehovah God ceases to be sufficient to draw a person unto him, nothing else will have the power to do it (cf. Romans 1:16). Oh, crowds may be drawn to the "church" but not to God in pure, sacrificial, faithful-unto-death Christian service, or to the humble, simple, outpouring worship that God expects!
A person of a true conversion mindset, wholly turned to the Lord (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9), does not "go to church" for what can be gotten "out of it," expecting the church, the preacher--whoever or whatever--to provide the thrill, the hype, that makes for a good feeling and an emotional high.