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Should Christians be sober-mind, kill joys, who avoid all secular entertainment, amusements, activities and pursuits? What is appropriate entertainment for the Christian? Can the words Christian, entertainment, and amusements, fit in the same verse? Addison Raws helps us realize that while the entertainment question is one of paramount importance, it isn't the FIRST concern. Our FIRST concern should be the degree to which we have fallen in love with Jesus and made the surrender that comes as a result of that relationship. Falling in love with Jesus and making the associated surrender allows us to make godly decisions about Christian entertainment. Raws makes some interesting and thought-provoking points regarding Christian entertainment.
"...if it is too hard for you to hold up the choicest pleasure of your life for his approval or disapproval, let me say very kindly, your problem is not worldly amusements.... be deeply troubled over the fact that you have not yet fallen in love with your precious Saviour." Addison Raws
His message delivered at the Victorious Christ Conference
Princeton, NJ, 1922.
THE First Psalm has been a wonderful blessing to the speaker and many times has helped him settle question concerning his attitude to places and people. Every thoughtful young Christian will admit that no Christian should want to go all the way with the world in the matter of amusements. It would be unreasonable to expect that nothing which Satan holds out to sinners to gratify their desires would be harmful to a child of God.
Yes, a line must be drawn, but the important question is, who is going to draw that line. The speaker found himself wholly unable to draw such a line, and became still more confused as he sought the advice of others. After years of disappointing experiment he went to the only One who can draw the correct line for the young Christian—a line free from the influence of fanaticism either of the world or of some so-called Christians. The Lord Jesus can and will draw a line in amusements which will be joyously satisfactory both to us and to him. Don't ask the Lord to show you where the line should come in every other Christian's life, but be satisfied to know your line.
Let me read from Psalm 16: ll: "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
It seems almost wrong for me to add any words of mine after reading such a message from God's Word. However, I know there are young people here tonight who have come with real sincere questions in their minds as to this important matter in the lives of young Christians. Some are honestly asking, "Are there any amusements in the Christian's life?" Others are saying, "I believe there are some, but do they satisfy and bring real pleasure?" Thank God, there are other folks in this room who could readily and convincingly answer those questions in testimony.
I realize that many times messages and advice on amusements are given by older persons and by those who do not have the youthful vision or understanding of things which appeal to young people. You may have heard of the dear old saint, who, in a prayer meeting gave an expression of thanksgiving that he had been delivered from the pleasures of the world—that he no longer had any desire to dance, or play cards. His age and the fact that he was quite crippled with rheumatism probably caused the usual reaction of merriment with the young people who heard him, and they doubtlessly assured themselves that only such a person as he would fail to approve the amusements they enjoyed. The speaker has no physical handicap that would prevent his taking part in any sport or amusement he knows of—he is still young and has the fullest appreciation of fun and the youthful vision of life. There is practically no sport, game or amusement on the calendar which he has not entered into. All forms of athletics have appealed to him, and the danger has been that of overdoing it. He still would gladly miss a meal at any time to enjoy a clean game.
The fact which troubled me much a few years ago was that, in spite of the great amount of time I was giving to these things, I was still unhappy—unsatisfied. Many times, even in the midst of the most lively games and amusements, I have carried around a heart of lead. My companions and team-mates thought everything was all right with me, but I knew things were all wrong. Out on the ballfield I didn't enjoy looking up into the blue sky very much, for there were usually things standing between me and my Lord. There was sin in my life to which I was a slave; how could I be happy? How I thank the Lord for the day which changed things. As I go out on the ballfield today, on the tennis court or the golf links (and the Lord in his great loving thoughtfulness is constantly arranging for those things which he knows I enjoy so much), the game means much more to me that it once did, and I am satisfied beyond any satisfaction I ever knew before I let him control my sports and amusements. What a difference it makes if he is with us in our fun and pleasure; what a failure life is, in any of its phases, without him. But most young Christians are afraid to fully trust the arrangement of their amusements to the Lord. They fear that would be a detriment to their youthful happiness and pleasure. It is a mistake!
If you could have dropped into our home about 9 o'clock Christmas eve, you would have found my wife and myself going about the house with a large box, collecting all of the old toys, dolls, and the like, that were to be seen and then putting the box away in a store room. Someone watching us might have said, "Well, you are the most heartless, unsympathetic, inconsiderate parents I have ever seen. Don't you realize that you have taken from your two little baby girls those things which are essential to their happiness? When they come down in the morning they won't have a thing to play with. You can't expect to raise your children like sticks; they must have fun and amusement." If that person could have called again about midnight, glanced in the parlor and could have seen the array of gifts under a beautiful Christmas tree that greatly resembled a toy store, his mind would have been greatly relieved. I'm sure he would have admitted that the little ones would survive for a day or so, in fact for a year or so.
My dear young friends, have we been accusing our heavenly Father of being less thoughtful, less considerate, of us than we, with our imperfect human love, would be for our own little ones? Could he ask you for the "old toys" of your life, your best pleasures, if he did not have far better ones to give you in place of them? We may some day give some of those old toys, the best of them, back to our little ones. The Lord may restore to us some of our former pleasures after we have surrendered all things to him. If he does, they will seem new and we shall enjoy them more than ever. Be sure of one thing, he could withhold nothing which would be essential for your happiness and pleasure.
As a very dear friend of mine stepped out of a cigar store one evening and was about to light the cigar he had just purchased, he said to himself, "This is the only thing you have not talked to the Lord about since you surrendered your life to him a few weeks ago. You haven't asked him if it's all right for you to continue smoking." Then, without hesitating he bowed his head and said, "Lord, I'll smoke the next cigar you tell me to buy and smoke." Strange to say, although that was nearly ten years ago, he has not yet purchased another cigar, and the remarkable part of it is that he has never since had the least desire for a smoke. He is one of the happiest, jolliest men I know. Young friends, my only desire tonight is, that you will be as honest with the Lord and as trustful of his will as my friend was. He will control your desires if you will let him have full possession of your life.
There was a time in my life when I would bring questionable amusements and other things to the Lord, mainly to ease my troublesome conscience, and keeping the thing rather concealed I would say, "Lord, you don't want to take this thing from me, do you?"—and then without waiting to be sure of his answer I would go on my way saying to myself, "No, I didn't think so—that person who spoke against that thing was wrong." But, oh, how I do thank God that since that night, that wonderful night-when I found Romans 12: 1 and 2, and, discouraged, defeated, in bondage, I presented my body to the Lord Jesus, gave up my ownership completely and waited for him through his Spirit to live a life in that body which I in my own strength had been utterly unable to live—it has been easy to come to him with any question regarding my life and wait for the answer.
After yielding my all to him I could bring questionable amusements, things I loved so well, and—holding them up to him, with both hands in the light—I would say, "Now, Lord, here is a matter of my life about which there is a question. You know how much I love this thing, and you know what it would cost me to give it up. But when I think of the cost you paid for my life, what you have done and what you are doing for me now, I couldn't let this or any other thing come between us. I'll leave it here with you, Lord. If it is all right for me to have in my life and you want to give it back to me, I'll thank you for it; but if not, you, Lord Jesus, mean so much more to me than this thing I have brought to you." My dear friends, the overwhelming flood of joy that has come into my life at such a moment has made me want to look around and see if there was not something still more costly that I might bring him. It is often very difficult for us to select a gift for someone we love more than anyone else in the world, for the most expensive and costly thing we can find seems so worthless as we think of the one to whom it is going. Can you be satisfied to offer him only the poorest and worst things of your life, or will you want to bring him the best you have—all you have—for him to use as his own, this one who loves you far more than that earthly friend or relative of whom you may be thinking?
If you can't talk to him about that questionable, borderline matter, if it is too hard for you to hold up the choicest pleasure of your life for his approval or disapproval, let me say very kindly, your problem is not worldly amusements. Don't be troubled over the right or wrong of the dance, the theatre, cards, or anything else, but be deeply troubled over the fact that you have not yet fallen in love with your precious Saviour. He died for you—can you hesitate for a moment at the thought of presenting him with the thing you love best, if there is a possibility he may be wanting it? Let me assure you right here that our heavenly Father never asks a young person to live without real pleasure, fun and amusement, but he does ask every young person to give him complete control and management of all these things. I would rather have one hour of pleasure and amusement with my Lord at my side than ten hours of any worldly pleasure without him.
Let me testify in closing, as one with much experience on both sides, that no one can enjoy sports and amusements half so much as the surrendered, yielded Christian, who receives them from him and partakes of them with him.
Will you let him have all, and be Lord of all tonight? It may cost you something to do it, but it will cost you far more if you refuse Him.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Will you let him have it? He's waiting for your answer.
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