Written by Jonathan Malm, USA
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun than I have in the last couple of years. I’ve been self-employed and my wife has been in school. Since our schedules are so flexible and we have no kids, we’ve taken some pretty amazing trips.
For instance, we just got back from a week in Las Vegas where we caught quite a few shows and toured nearly every casino on the strip. Or a couple of months ago, we took a flight to New Orleans one day just to eat Cajun food—we literally flew in that morning and out that evening, just for gumbo and beignets! We’ve also been to Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico this year. We’re seriously into this “fun” thing.
But how many trips to Las Vegas does it take before I’m having too much fun? Where should Christians draw the line? How should we view fun?
These are questions worth exploring and the Bible does give us helpful principles to live by. On one hand, 1 Timothy 6:17 tells us that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. On the other hand, we’re called to a higher purpose: do justly, love mercy, walk humbly, make disciples, care for the widow and orphan in their distress, live a life of holiness . . .
They may seem to be conflicting concepts; but they aren’t. In fact, I’m convinced having fun can be a way to bring us closer to God. Renowned theologian C.S. Lewis, in Reflections on the Psalms, said it like this: “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise.” The question we need to consider is this: What does our enjoyment praise?
When we acknowledge the Giver of the things we enjoy, we get a chance to praise the Giver of that enjoyment. Could it be that Christians are best equipped to get the maximum pleasure out of every drop of life, because we can praise the source from which it originates from?
Pleasure is meant to be a good thing. It’s a gift.
At the same time, if we aren’t careful, there is a point at which pleasure becomes hedonism. Hedonism is when the sole goal of our life is to experience pleasure. As believers, that’s a cheap way to live; it completely ignores the purpose God has for our lives.
So, at what point does pleasure turn into hedonism? That line is different for each one of us.
Here are three questions we should ask ourselves occasionally to help us test whether or not our enjoyment is misplaced.
Am I becoming addicted to the fun?
It’s far too easy to use fun as a distraction. Wine, travel, television, Candy Crush Saga . . . you name it. They all make wonderful distractions from the realities of life. But that same escapism can quickly become an addiction, which is a form of bondage. In Galatians 5:1, Paul tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” He’s referring to circumcision in this passage, but the principle applies to any form of bondage—bondage to a law, to addiction, or to anything that God isn’t calling us to do.
Enjoyment should feel like freedom, not like bondage.
Am I neglecting my purpose?
If the pursuit of fun keeps us from accomplishing God’s call on our lives, it has turned into hedonism. That’s not to say there’s no room for vacation. For instance, if you’re a pastor, it’s okay to take a week or two off; the calling is eternal, but the role is not a rigid routine. Even missionaries take vacations. My dad, who runs a missions agency, actually requires his missionaries to take time off and recharge. It’s a sort of a Sabbath rest so they can be more effective in their roles.
But if tons of vacations prevent us from being able to be generous or to make an impact on those we’re called to, we’re neglecting our purpose. God has called us to make an impact where we are. Don’t let the pursuit of fun get in the way of that.
Am I feeling entitled?
“I deserve a vacation” is something nearly everyone has said at some point in our lives. But the truth is, we don’t really deserve anything. Instead, it is the grace of God that allows us to have good things. We don’t deserve a vacation, but because of the grace of God we get one. That mindset is critical to proper enjoyment as a believer.
Can we change our perspective in enjoyment to one of gratitude? We’d have a much better time, and we’d have the opportunity to praise God who gave us that enjoyment.
There is a time for enjoyment, just like there’s a time for work. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. . . a time to plant and a time to uproot . . . a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3). It’s a call to enjoy our life in all its different seasons. Have tons of fun. But when the other seasons come, let’s invest the same amount of energy into them.