Fun in being a Christian

Worship, , automatically translated , Evangelical Free Church congregation Leichlingen


(hinting at carnival march) I could also give a carnival speech today, given the date. In the various strongholds it starts in half an hour or so.

Maybe something like:

You neighbours come to us in droves.
Because we're all in a good mood.

The Kreuzkirch' is a place of joy
because we are all nice people.

Let yourselves sink happily into the seats
because there'll be coffee afterwards.

And when the service is over
And when the service is over And many a man is crying from the pain of parting
the streets still echo with the sound of
Long live the congregation!

Now all that's missing is the "Tätä, tätä, tätäää".

But fun aside, or not, because I would like to reflect with you today on the theme of "fun".

When I compare today with my early days as a Christian - that was in the middle of the 80s - then it seems to me that we I feel as if we had thought more about what was the right behaviour for a Christian back then, and that included the question of what kind of fun is appropriate for a Christian.

Christian behaviour

Some Christians gave the impression that everything that is fun is forbidden for a Christian. There were only a few of them, but some of them were very impressive Christians. I suffered a little from that for a while.

Others didn't seem to ask themselves what was appropriate for a Christian, at least that's how it seemed. it seemed so. Of course, I didn't know if it was really true.

The question of what is appropriate behaviour for a Christian is also a little tricky, because if it becomes an unspoken rule in the congregation, then one quickly comes to the conclusion that it is not appropriate. If it becomes an unspoken rule in the congregation, then one quickly ends up leading a kind of double life, in which one is in Christian mode on Sundays and enjoys and in everyday life you enjoy your freedom.

Nevertheless, this question is important and one has to ask oneself and question oneself in the process.

Let us take a look at a Bible text (1 Peter 3:13-17; NGÜ):

13 If, then, you do what is good and right with untiring zeal, can anyone do you any harm at all? 14 And should you nevertheless have to suffer - precisely because you are doing God's will -, you will be happy. Do not be afraid of those 'who oppose you', and do not be intimidated. 15 Rather, honour Christ the Lord by trusting him with all your heart. And be ready at all times whoever asks you to give information about the hope that is filling you. 16 But do it kindly and with due respect, 'always mindful,` to have a good conscience. For if you live an exemplary life, as befits your belonging to Christ, those who slander you will be ashamed because their accusations will be proved groundless. 17 And if it should be God's will that someone should suffer because he does good, then that is better in any case, than if he should suffer because he does evil.

Here a fundamentally hostile environment is described and it is quite possible that other people are hostile to you because you are a Christian. hostile to you because you are a Christian.

We also looked at this text last Friday in the youth, and interestingly enough, the focus of the conversation first turned to the question of why the environment is often hostile. Interestingly, the focus of the discussion first turned to the question of why the environment is often hostile towards faith in Jesus. But then we also came to the point of why people behave in a morally correct way at all, because it is not only Christians who behave in a morally correct way. not only Christians behave in a morally correct way, but also people who are consciously not Christians.

But how morally correct are we Christians, or should we be?

The text already begins with the hammer statement: " If, then, you do with untiring zeal what is good and right. In other translations, some of them older, it is often shorter: zealots of the good. Or in v.16 it says: For if you lead an exemplary life, according to your belonging to Christ.... which in other translations which in other translations is rendered as a good walk in Christ.

This all sounds very exhausting. One must then behave exemplarily and well all day long, so that any, possible slander will lead to the slanderer's shame. That doesn't sound like fun. And in the evening you fall into your armchair because you are completely exhausted from being good.

It reminds me of a cartoon I saw years ago. A pastor's wife says to her husband at the breakfast table, "You know, honey, can't we do this once today, that you're cheerful at home and grumpy in church?"

The usual pastor, after all, has his job in the congregation and faces a similar problem to us normal working people, only hopefully the environment is not quite so hostile.

But if you look at v. 15 from the above text, everything takes on a slightly different character:

Rather, honour Christ the Lord by trusting in him with all your heart. And be ready at all times And be ready at any time to answer anyone who asks you to give information about the hope that fills you.

Other translations write but keep the Lord, the Christ, holy in your hearts. The word "holy" has the original meaning of "special". So keep the Lord, Jesus Christ, special in your hearts. And that is not a feeling, but it means that you trust in him, that you stake your own life on him. And then you also have a hope about which you can speak and answer.

I believe, and I can also say this from my own experience, that in a life with Jesus you get the desire, to manage your everyday life well and correctly. Of course, you will never do everything right and you will also get into situations where you struggle with yourself. where you struggle with yourself and make decisions that you don't feel good about. And even a Christian will make wrong decisions from time to time, and sometimes also because the decision-making constraints feel stronger than the reality of faith.

This is, I think, a situation where you can really feel alone as a Christian, because you expect to be met with incomprehension, when you're not alone, because you expect to be met with incomprehension when you tell others about such a decision: "It's obvious that this is wrong!"

Such a situation is not fun either, to bring the original topic into play again. But Jesus Christ is still there, and you can also turn to him when you think you are going astray. "Going astray" sounds so complete. Is this expression appropriate at all, if one is only in some areas of life even in one's own eyes, because one believes that one cannot do otherwise?

In any case, the entire life of faith can become disordered if there is only one point where one departs from what is good and right in Jesus' eyes. Jesus' eyes. But once again: He is still there and helps you to deal with the - unfortunately often negative - consequences. of dubious decisions and to put things right.

Thank God, Christian life does not only consist of such fun-breaking decision conflicts. Good and exemplary good and exemplary behaviour must grow naturally out of trust in Jesus, otherwise such Bible verses will become Bible verses become slogans that one eventually fails at. And perfection is, of course, never meant by this, on the contrary, the On the contrary, dealing sensibly with one's own mistakes can also be exemplary.

If one now summarises these verses from the perspective of fun, then one notices that this is not really about fun at all. about fun. Some people are inclined to think that an exemplary and good life is just another name for a funless life. is just another name for a funless life, but that is nonsense.

Let's concentrate a little more on fun.

Fun in life

According to Wikipedia, the word "fun" comes from the Italian "spasso" and means diversion, pastime and pleasure. An activity that is fun is an activity that gives pleasure. You can also have fun together.

Can Christians have fun together? Are they allowed to do so at all? Or is everything that is fun forbidden for Christians? Our Lord suffered, so we must too, all our miserable Christian lives.

How high was the fun factor in the life of Jesus Christ before he started his preaching ministry? Did he, for example, go on a spree with his buddies? So, just to be clear, we know that Jesus never sinned. sinned. Or did he just read scriptures and pray all day after his work as a carpenter?

The Bible doesn't say much about his life before the Annunciation time, the most we can do is draw any indirect conclusions. For example, it says in Mark 6:1-3; NGÜ

1 From there Jesus went on and went to his hometown; his disciples accompanied him. 2 On the Sabbath he taught in the synagogue before many listeners. Astonished, they asked, "Where did this man get all this? What wisdom is this that is given to him, and how is it that such miracles are done through him? 3 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon? Do not his sisters also live here among us?" So it came about that Jesus met with rejection from them.

The irritation of his neighbours obviously came from the fact that Jesus, as a carpenter, led a normal, inconspicuous life. This is one of us, one like us, who was always shopping at my house and whatever other thoughts were going through his neighbours' minds. went through his neighbours' heads.

If Jesus had led a funless life before, then the neighbours' words would probably have been: "He was always a bit strange."

I admit I'm getting a little speculative here. But let's think about the wedding at Cana, where Jesus makes over 600 litres of wine out of water. out of water to continue a raucous celebration. That doesn't sound like a buzzkill to me.

Why does the Bible say so little about fun? I think it is because fun is something we take for granted. Activities that we enjoy are part of our lives, they always have been and always will be. Depending on wealth and free time, they take up a smaller or larger space in our lives.

Fun becomes problematic when other things are neglected.

For example, many people enjoy online games like WoW. Some people play online games in the evening instead of watching a film on TV, they play an online game for an hour or two. Others play sports, others do pottery, make music, etc.

However, there are now cases where someone spends all their free time playing online and neglects their family. This is where the fun becomes problematic. This can also happen with all other hobbies. For example, someone is only there for their (I only know such a case from a crime novel, not from real life).

With online games, especially those that take place in real time, such as WoW, the addiction factor is apparently higher and one often hears that one often hears of people neglecting their duties because the game is so addictive.

But such specific problems say nothing about fun itself.

Many decades ago, in Christian circles, diversions per se were somewhat frowned upon. A Christian did not go to the pub, he did not go to the fairground, he did not go dancing and he did not go to the cinema. In reports of a revival, that is, where many people found faith in a short time, it was a common occurrence, that the pubs in the village had to close because hardly anybody went there.

These views seem antiquated to us today, but we do not want to pretend that our knowledge is far superior to that of our fathers of faith. far superior to that of our fathers in the faith.

For one thing, people had less money in the past. There were a few rich and many poor. And there were certainly many who drank away what little money they had in the pub and caused a lot of suffering at home. at home. My maternal great-grandfather - I never met him - did the same and I know from stories, that my great-grandmother and her six children did not have an easy time of it. The pub was therefore a danger for many.

In the same way, one can find problematic aspects in other distractions. Now you have to examine for yourself where the dangers lie and which and which distractions are better left alone. However, one should not drive oneself crazy, because if one lives with If you live with Jesus Christ, you can rely on him to draw your attention to dangers.

Of course, some passages in the Bible also give hints, but the Bible warns against attitudes of the heart rather than against activities of distraction. activities of distraction. These would be egoism, covetousness, quarrelsomeness, quarrelsomeness, bossiness, idolatry, but also sexual immorality, although I prefer the older term fornication. Changing sexual partners, as well as illegitimate sexual relationships, are wrong according to the Bible, although they can be perceived as love or fun. love or fun.

One cannot simply turn off such attitudes of the heart as selfishness, greed, etc. In the same way it is difficult to get out of a problematic relationship. How much do you have your heart under control? That is not always easy.

Nevertheless, one must also face the standards of the Bible, because these are the standards of Jesus, the standards of God.

Here is another Bible verse (1 Corinthians 6:12,13; NGÜ):

12 "All things are lawful for me!" Whoever says this, I say to him: `But not everything that is lawful for me'. is not good for me and for others. - "All things are lawful for me!" But it must not come to the point that I let myself be ruled by anything. 13 `You say:` "The food is for the stomach and the stomach for the food, and God will put an end to both." 'Agreed,` but 'that does not mean that we can do what we want with our bodies`. The body is not there for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is there for the body `and has the right, and has the right to dispose of it'.

That is where I would see the limits for distractions: They must not harm me or others, and they must not bring me into a into a dependency.

In addition, the text also deals with sexual immorality, which can only be categorised as "distraction" to a limited extent. Some people live according to the motto "sex is fun" and shimmy from one short relationship to the next, but others take this topic much more seriously. this topic much more seriously. From the Bible, sex is something that is clearly not a simple distraction, but is meant to be the crown of fun in a marriage. crown of fun in a marriage. I have invented the term "crown of fun", it is not in the Bible.

I also mentioned selfishness earlier as something the Bible warns against. A very simple danger in distractions is that one can so much that you don't have time for other people. Life is driven only by what life is only driven by what one enjoys, and it is clearly wrong if other people no longer find a place in this schedule.

I have now warned a lot again about false fun, that may not be right at all. "All things are lawful for me": if I really put my trust in Jesus Christ, then the focus of this verse from earlier is not on the possible dangers, but on the freedom I have in Jesus. He will watch over me, warn me and he will also let me enjoy my life.

Fun in life

I would like to describe another incident that I experienced on holiday many years ago.

When our boys were small, my family and I often went on holiday to various Centerparcs, because my parents had invited us. This also had the advantage that we had the babysitters with us.

In such a Centerparc there is a large building in the middle, called the Market Dome, where there are several restaurants, cafés, the reception and various shops. and various shops, and in the evenings one or more musicians usually performed in one of the cafés. Because my parents often didn't often didn't feel like going out in the evening, Sonja and I could go to the Market Dome alone and listen to live music, which we liked to do anyway.

I don't know much about the job of a musician who plays in such cafés in the evenings. It's probably similar to that of a solo entertainer. These musicians have to play all sorts of things, have their repertoire and probably play the same thing every night, mostly the hits that people hear. and probably play the same thing every night, mostly the hits that people want to hear or just perceive as background noise. Whether this job is fun or frustrating depends, of course, on the attitude of the musician and his ambitions. he has. For a top musician, such a job can be frustrating, I would imagine.

Because the evening round in the café wasn't so big any more, you could always ask for songs and, in principle, I got the "song" from every musician/music group. I always wished for the song "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry from every musician/music group. It's from the 50s, so it's more or less classical music, We Christians are allowed to do that ;-)

One evening there was a keyboard player who performed alone and played the usual stuff, sometimes this, sometimes that. When I asked him about "Johnny B. Goode", he played it and made a rock'n'roll medley out of it. And something happened to him... something happened to him - I admit that it was my purely subjective perception - he suddenly had fun with the music he was making.

Most of the time you can tell if a musician is having fun with the music he is making. It comes across in a completely different way. That's what pulls you with it. I think that should also apply to the music we make here in the community.

Let's apply this to our Christian life: Do we like being Christians? Or have we only decided for Jesus so that we don't get lost? so that we don't get lost, and otherwise we think everything is stupid?

Do we think it is great to have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Of course, this does not mean that we close our eyes to problems. problems, that is clear. There are always the dark valleys, but I still like to be with Jesus.

Fun in life with Jesus, I know this expression sounds unusual, maybe even superficial. Nevertheless, take it with you once a week, not as a learning verse, because it's not a Bible verse, as a stimulus for reflection, and that from all sides: Enjoy life with Jesus. What thoughts does this expression trigger in you? Does this expression seem too superficial to you, or do you feel too superficial yourself? Does this statement have nothing to do with you because you are more of a complainer anyway? If this expression annoys you, think about how you understand it and why it annoys you.

What does my/your life radiate? Do I come across as the musician who enjoys his music or rather as someone who is frustrated by his failed musical life? frustrated by his failed life as a musician, playing a few old hits because he needs the money.