“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
When Paul penned those words, little did he know that they would reverberate all the way into our day and age of the most enlightened and entertainment-saturated culture known to man. Of course, there is nothing new under the sun, but there are many attempts to place new bows on old presents. Recreation is defined as refreshment of strength and spirits after work; also could be a means of refreshment or diversion.
This is where we, as Americans, are incredibly blessed and, potentially, incredibly cursed. I am not out to name off any specific recreation, as it can have countless applications. My goal here is to bring up to the surface our potentially evil love for recreation and how we must carefully guard our time and families from being robbed by it.
I grew up in a family of all boys and we all idolized sports of all kinds. My grandpa can rattle off statistics of most ball-players in his lifetime to this very day. Sunday afternoons were mainly spent by either my uncles reclined in their chairs watching NASCAR or whatever ball was in season. If it was warm enough, we would throw the football and play tackle in the front yard, until somebody got mad enough to fight, then we quit. We did other things, too, like riding four-wheelers and playing video games. After growing up in that setting and sports being a mainstay, I simply grew to have a bad taste in my mouth and lost interest, and even now my interest in sports is minimal at best. But, trust me, I still have my own idolized recreations that can take up just the same amount of time as the parents of three, chasing ballgames multiple times per week.
We cannot feel guilty for having hobbies and enjoying recreation. After all, God has created this wonderful earth to enjoy. Some of the greatest moments we have with our families are found in recreation! But the rub comes in when the pursuit of the pleasure they provide substitutes and overrules our duties and functions as Christians. Above all we must remember that we are more tempted to pursue our own pleasures before our King’s. That’s because we still dwell in this fleshly body that seeks itself rather than the things of the Spirit. Therefore, our goal must be to set boundaries for our recreations in order to firmly establish our most compelling duties that demand our energy and affections.
How can we ever read “…He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together…That in everything He might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:17-18) and not be compelled to prioritize what He commands and desires for us? How can we duplicitously pray and plead for Him to provide us with employment and yet think that our entertainment and recreation are outside of His scope and care? He is preeminent. Everything that is ever done or will be done should be done considering Him first.
It should go without mentioning, but the family is critical. Nothing can be so easily neglected in our day than the family. We are a culture of creativity, entertainment, and even ambition; yet, all of these stand to eclipse our view of what can be found only in the family. The family is the only thing God used as a reference to His relationship with His own bride (Ephesians 5). That’s how important the family is. Who are we to rob our families by diverting affections from one another to things done with one another? Yes team sports build unity, collaboration, achievement, communication and heart. But if those things were the means to which God ordained to establish them in our children, why do we find Him solely focused on the leadership of the father, the caring and nurturing of the mother, and the obedience of the children?
That’s because God’s means of building the family is mainly by being a family.
3. The Church
The most important thing to God is the family that He purchased by His own blood, the church. If a person claiming Christ displays greater affections for something other than God’s most valuable item, then sin abounds. In the first church established immediately after Pentecost, the church was the community. They weren’t part of a community within a community. They didn’t segregate their donated money between secular and holy; they were devoted to the needs of the church. They enjoyed one another’s presence, grew with one another, cried with one another, laughed with one another, ate with one another…you get the picture. Why is it so different now? Why is it that we find ourselves only gathering together two days a week for a couple of hours-max? It’s because we are now segregated. Our lives are now divided between personal and spiritual, community fellowship and church fellowship, church-league and school league. This is the unfortunate reality that we live in but it’s not that it has to remain this way. What would change if we were to take the fellowship of the saints with tenacious seriousness? What if we found better joy with fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we do our brothers and sisters in high school football? It shouldn’t be easier to find comradery online with people playing the same game we are than it is with our church family.
Let’s strive to play less video games and play more games with our sons and daughters.
Let’s strive to place a limit on how much ball is played by our kids and enhance time spent around the table praying and ministering to one another through laughter, confession, prayer, and praise.
Let’s strive to sit in our deer stands and duck blinds with our sons and daughters (and wives) using God’s gift of nature to be yet another point of family worship and learning more of God’s genius in creation.
Let’s strive to make the church family the priority in our social and spiritual lives and be less dependent upon secular social constructs to bring us what only Christ’s body can give.
Let’s strive to make our boats, lake trips and lake houses to be our servants rather than us being theirs.
Let’s strive to make those lake trips to be the best times to remember, but keeping the focus on worship while on the lake and in the midst of God’s people.