Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

1.12.2010

My Pleasure

“Most of them want to come for reasons other than serving or helping, so I require something of them. Those kids have money to burn and closets full of designer clothes!” I overheard a friend talking about his ministry to the homeless in Portland, OR. Of course, my conscience contentedly patted me on the back—I had gone to help him this past fall, doling out hot breakfast, warm clothes, hygiene essentials, encouraging words, and friendly smiles for four hours in the pouring rain.

My friend, however, wasn’t done. “So, there’s a few junior-highers that still come every month. And you know what they say to me when we’re done? ‘I had fun.’ And I think, ‘I didn’t bring you out here to have fun! I didn’t want you to have fun! Tell me you were shocked or humbled or embarrassed—but don’t tell me you had fun!’” He paused a moment to consider. “Maybe these kids can’t be shocked anymore…maybe ‘I had fun’ is the only way they can express themselves.”

I moved on, but my thoughts stayed on this conversation. I could have just as easily been one of those flippant teenagers saying, “Thanks! Watching five year old homeless boys come out of the woodwork to get a hot meal was fun! I had a great time!” In fact, I could remember many serving opportunities I had judged by the measure of enjoyment they provided.

We insincerely say “it was my pleasure” as if our entertainment is the highest compliment we can pay to another human being, when it is often just an indicator of our sinful hearts. In this egotistical, self-centered, instant-gratification society of ours, we seek one thing above all others: amusement. The US spent $10,632,527,005[1] (yes, that’s BILLION) on movie tickets alone in 2009—and that doesn’t even begin to include the total entertainment budget. As the world becomes increasingly humanistic and men fall on their faces in awe and worship of themselves, the highest fulfillment—the greatest compliment—the most rewarding purpose has become fun. We are becoming “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (II Timothy 3:4).”

A commercial I recently saw was advertising a website with thousands of movies available for instant streaming. “In fact,” the geeky guy exclaimed as he touted his company, “It would take you an entire year to watch all of the titles we have available!” Then he got a dreamy, far-away look in his eyes (or maybe it was just a dumb, idle stupidity—I couldn’t tell). “That would be the best year of my life.” Everyday, men and women pursue the fleeting sensation of fun—and this cotton-candy-like experience claims costly, nonrefundable hours of one’s time. Time, though, is pocket change compared to what many people sell to fuel their addiction: their souls.

So what is a Christian to do? Shun all movies? Live like a medieval monk? Read only the Scripture? Boycott Monopoly? Ultimately, of course, we must come to terms with Hebrews 11:25: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” John Piper offers a practical and sobering suggestion too: "think about your death. Think about your death a lot....I think about the impact of death, and what I would like to be found doing, and how I would prepare to meet him and give an account to him (see the endnote to read his excellent article in its entirety).[2]" When we have chosen to suffer with God’s people and shun sinful amusement, then we can enjoy a balanced diet of wholesome “fun.” Psalms 35:27 says, “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.”

However, may we remember in all our doings and prosperity to say first and foremost, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelations 4:11).” Therefore, the next time you go out to brighten your corner, consider changing your typical “Oh—it was my pleasure!” to something more profound and honest. It’s not all about you, and it’s not all about fun, but it certainly is all about God.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. So what do you say when someone says, "You play so well!" or "Good job!" or whatever else they might say to you after you've played.

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  2. I say thank you. ;-) This is just something that has been on my heart, in my thoughts, and running through my mind. Have I implemented all of it? Not yet. Do I plan to apply it? Yes. Really, what you say is not the worst of it--it's what you do and why you do it.
    Am I playing for fun or for God's glory? I'm thinking a response such as, "thank you for giving me the opportunity to glorify God" would be appropriate. What do ya'll think? Sometimes a simple "thank you" will suffice--and sometimes not. Just remember to point others to your heart's pursuit with your words.

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  3. Good post, Mikaela!
    I have read (with conviction) that article by John Piper before...I think I found it through Death is Not Dying (deathisnotdying.com). Have you been to that site? If not I HIGHLY encourage you to watch Rachel's video, it impacted me Immensely. I think we all need to think about death more often. People say that is morbid, but it's not--it gives such a fresh perspective of LIFE!

    It is so sad that Americans are spending so much money--not to mention precious time--on movies, since every time I go on Netflix or to the local Blockbuster, there are more movies that seriously must break God's heart.

    This year, I have made a resolution to buy more movies that are God-honoring, so that when I get an urge to vegetate and watch a movie, I can do so and not only will the movie not corrupt me, it will challenge me to greater faith and love for God.
    Satan definately runs most of Hollywood (if not all), and is wreaking havoc in young people through it. People wonder why we have rampant teen pregnancy, homosexuality, porn, blasphemy, perversion, etc.
    Just look at the "Hot New Releases" section. Or the growing "horror" and "sci-fi" sections.

    enough said. (sorry, i get really worked up when i talk about this subject...)
    Kelsey :o)

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  4. Hi Mikaela,
    I have awarded you over at my blog!

    ~Abigail~

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  5. Kelsey--don't apologize--it is a worthy subject to get worked up about! I will check out that website tomorrow; it sounds excellent.
    Thank you Abby!

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  6. Mikaela, that was a very good and thought -provoking post. When I look at my motives for doing "good things," I am often disappointed as I see selfish motives. I believe God most honors the works that I do only to please Him.
    I do however, believe that God wants us to find pleasure in serving Him and others. I was recently listening to a sermon series on Christian hedonism by John Piper on this subject. Do you know you can download his sermons at his web site, Desiring God? I have really enjoyed them.

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  7. Ruthie--a comment from Africa! That's definitely a first. ;-) I have listened to some of Mr. Piper's sermons from his website--what a blessing!
    You are certainly right in pointing out "Christian hedonism." The crux of the matter is that God created us for His pleasure and when we fulfill our purpose, we find pleasure. God's pleasure is priority--our pleasure (though fulfilled when living a Christ-centered life) is secondary. Or, as I ended with: "It’s not all about you, and it’s not all about fun, but it certainly is all about God."
    Thanks for your thoughts--and boy am I glad that the Christian life is not one of drudgery or legalism, but actually very fulfilling and gratifying!

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