Some years ago, action was taken by pro football officials to eliminate excessive celebrations in the end zone after touchdowns. Players were going overboard in their revelry. As a result, some critics said the NFL suddenly stood for “No Fun League.”
What brings this to mind is there’s a similar opinion some hold that if people commit their lives to following Jesus Christ, they can’t have any fun anymore – that in becoming part of God’s family, they’d also be joining a “no fun league.”
It probably starts with how one defines “fun.” It’s true that after a life-changing encounter with Jesus, sometimes things that captivated us and commanded our attention lose their appeal.
That’s why 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
For instance, before I became a follower of Jesus, I avidly read horror novels. The thrills, twists and turns of the stories fascinated me. But over time I realized those story lines and plots were detrimental, pointing me away from Christ, rather than toward Him. I determined that if I were to succeed in following the admonition of Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being,” that treasured pastime was one of the “old things” that needed to pass away.
My reasoning: Why focus on evil – there’s so much of it in the world already – when I can concentrate on “renewing my mind,” as Romans 12:2-3 puts it, by thinking and meditating on what’s good, being “able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
It’s been said many times, “if sin wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t want to do it.” We’re never tempted to eat food we don’t like. But if you’re on a diet, a juicy cheeseburger or thick milkshake can seem almost irresistible. The “original sin” in the Bible was like that. God had given Adam and Eve freedom to partake of anything in the garden of Eden, except for one thing – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather than trusting the Lord’s one restriction and abiding by it, they were enticed to sample from it anyway. This goes down as perhaps the worst decision in history.
Similarly, I’ve known men who found themselves consumed with pornography. They knew it was wrong, that it was not only unhealthy emotionally and spiritually, but also detrimental to their relationships with their wives. But because of the “fun,” their struggles continued.
Addressing this, the Bible tells how sin, so very enticing, can lead to disastrous consequences we never imagined. "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword" (Proverbs 15:3-4).
There are no simple answers or solutions for what are often called “besetting sins.” But a good place to start would be to follow an admonition from Israel’s King David, learned through experience: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalms 119:9-11). If God’s truth is stored in our hearts, we have a powerful weapon to ward off temptation.
Equally important is recognizing that God is not a divine spoilsport, making rules to keep us from having fun. Being our Creator, our Father who knows best, His commands and statutes were established for our good. This is why Jesus could boldly tell His followers, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly (to the full)” (John 10:10).
“Abundant life,” if we believe the messages TV shows and movies, commercials and advertising provide, is very different from what we see in the Scriptures. Much of what the media present to us appeals to our egos, sensuality and self-gratification, but that is not God’s way.
The real path to a full, abundant, rewarding life is not by receiving and consuming, but by giving of ourselves. Jesus explained, “If anyone would come after me, he must take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). He also said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), another principle we rarely hear from our secularized world.
I can attest that for more than 40 years, after Jesus invaded my life and began His lifelong process of transforming me into that “new creation” referred to above, it’s surpassed fun – an adventure filled with more surprises and more joy than I could have ever dreamed. I never would have dreamed or even hoped for the opportunities the Lord has presented to me.
And it’s the same for anyone genuinely committed to serving Him. That’s why Jim Elliot, a missionary who died at the hands of the primitive Aucas in Ecuador in 1956, could write with great conviction, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
When we give our hearts and lives to Jesus, it may mean that our personal definitions of “fun” changes, perhaps drastically. But if we had the choice of returning to the life we had before Christ, most of us would shout, “No way!” Because time has taught us that indeed, the Lord is “able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask of imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). And that’s where the fun is!
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.