Growing up in churches was interesting. So many people with different systematic theologies of what a Christ-ian should or should not do would often lead to parts of the Bible being ignored. Then you get part-time Christians (people who read their Bible on Sundays) who argue over what is or is not allowed from God's perspective. Sometimes you could pick these individuals out easily since they would always quote scripture on Sunday and never lift a finger for a stranger during the week. I remember clearly how adults would argue over what was good or bad for kids to do inside or outside of the church walls. I was so confused. Sometimes it felt like the best thing to do was to just walk on egg shells all day and hope that what ever it was you were doing didn't offend God. Like there were different levels of sin, some that God would forgive easier than others. This type of religious thinking creates an unhealthy mindset of perfection in people that does nothing but create a false belief in what God really wants from us.
Looking back what I find puzzling was that nobody in the church was investing time with creating disciples in the youth. There was no teaching of who we were and how we could find our identity in Christ. No serving others, just people in a building serving themselves. It seems that maybe it is better to throw kids into a program and hope that they don't loose attention or have their minds wonder off to Pokemon Go. Or maybe the common misconception is that these young minds would not be able to grasp the teachings of Jesus so why bother. Either could be true right?
Seeing the larger picture of these environments and multiple churches I was dragged into as a youth, one thing stands out. Everyone spoke of God, Hell, Jesus and the Apostle Paul...all the time. However, talk of the Holy Spirit was scarce and often non-existent inside these buildings. It makes me cringe to think of how often scripture was taken out of context, or how many churches crumbled due to a pastors pride. Ever hear a Christian talk about how people should just "get a job" and stop complaining about welfare? I wonder if these Christians know that Jesus was a homeless man. Sorry off topic.
No wonder it is tough for some Christ-ians to have fun. We show up once a week thinking of church the wrong way, needing a re-charge and needing people to focus on us, judging others on what they are wearing or not wearing, clinging to our programs instead of the Living Word, and all of this while we are dead inside. Our relationship is missing. The first church in Acts did not have fancy lights, the best music, well dressed leaders, buildings or programs...did they? There was no judgement, not a single person needed anything, they were filled with boldness and courage from the Holy Spirit. They shared all of their possessions with one another....kind of like redistributing their wealth. Republicans who think Jesus is on their side would hate that idea today. Whatever we need outside of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to keep us happy can become an idol that we can't live without.
If you live in Houston then check out these two meetup groups that offer Bible based meetings and some fun social events.
Through out the Bible there are scriptures about how the children of God should always praise in every situation. Joy, praise and worship show up over 700 times in the NIV from the Old and New Testament. Did God create us in His image so that we could walk around this world with hearts full of sorrow and our heads constantly looking up into the sky? Even the Apostle Paul gives clear direction on how we should view the world. Does the Bible say that we are to be imitators of Jesus so that we could show up complaining at church once a week? Was the Holy Spirit left by Jesus so that we could focus more on our sin or the Son of God?
I think God wants us to have more fun. But let's make clear what fun isn’t. It’s not at the expense of others. It’s not lewd. Fun doesn’t forget the hard calls on us as followers of Jesus. It doesn’t downplay the epic, eternal story we’re in. Fun is not escaping from reality—it’s entering in more fully.
First off (literally) is creation. Seriously, God must have giggled while making the giraffe, the platypus, the lantern fish and papaya trees. Dr. Suess has nothing on reality. I think creation itself must have been a lot of fun, and in some way, our joy in art must arise from this. Plus, there are commands to celebrate:
Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (Deuteronomy 16:14-15)
So, God commands celebration. Celebrations are generally fun. By the transitive property of fun-ness, God commands fun. And we read in Ecclesiastes 3 that there’s a time to laugh, which gives a general nod to fun. Curated from Relevant Magazine.
The world has stolen everything from us that God meant for us to appreciate and enjoy. But since the world has twisted these things we struggle with acknowledging that God has given us authority over this earth. So unless we take it back from the thief then we will demonize anyone and everything that doesn't look like us, talk like us, or show up for the same church programs we attend. Is it easier for the part-time Christian to have one foot in the world and another in the church then it is for true believers to enjoy fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ? Is that why we meet so many miserable Christians? If our Abba Father delights in us and we delight in Him, wouldn't that be a better way to take on the world? Isn't the joy of the Lord our strength?