George Booker
A New Creation

33. Entertainment and Leisure

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:14-17).

How we behave in the home, how we act at work, how we serve in the ecclesia, and how we relax in leisure are all related to the master principles of the faith. The man who worships on Sunday may be in very different circumstances on Monday, but he is the same man essentially. He discovers that what is easy in the temple is not so easy in the marketplace. This is obvious, but it must still be stressed: sometimes people are tempted to change their manner of life when they change their location or their clothes. It has happened that saints in the ecclesia are rather unsaintly in the home. The fact is that in the home people have no need to put on a performance. As they are, so they behave. It is an old saying that you have to live with people to know them. Where people live the restraint is eased, and the outward show is relaxed. The solemn truth is that when we are not “on show” the truth about us is shown more surely.

If discipleship fails at home it is not likely to be at its best anywhere else. Of all the tests, perhaps the home is the most severe. But it works both ways — it may be severe but it has wonderful possibilities for right development. There was the case of a young man who came into the Truth from an unbelieving family. One day his mother said to him: “I do not know much about your new religion, but I know this: you are much easier to live with now.”

The home is a nursery for divine service in the ecclesia. “Let them learn first to show godliness at home” is the instruction of the great apostle (1 Tim. 5:4). So the exercise of true discipleship in the home will seek for good manners, loving patience, admonition without provocation, and strength without bitterness and anger. Home is a place of safety and security, of joy and fellowship.

It cannot be expected that every form of enjoyment will make us better spiritually, but it should not make us worse. It cannot be said that every kind of play will deepen our reverence for God’s Word, but what can be said is that it should never diminish it. The Bible has nothing to say directly about the rightness or wrongness of various leisure-time activities. But it does tell us about purity and fidelity and integrity, and with these things a disciple should be concerned every day. Finally, no leisure is right if it prevents us from being where God wants us to be, or if it leads us where God does not want us to go.

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