Enjoyment and entertainment

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

He could have left it without form, without color or variation. He could have made it without hills and mountains and valleys. Without streams and lakes and oceans. Without trees and birds and leafy sea dragons. All those colors in the sunset really aren’t necessary. All food could taste like cold oatmeal. He could have made sex feel like brushing your teeth. But he didn’t.
The creation was made good. It was made to be enjoyed. This says a lot about it’s creator. He is to be enjoyed, because He is good. Now, all these things are good and enjoyable because they point to a good and enjoyable God. Without God at the center, all these things become worthless and abominable. Sex sought outside of a godly marriage relationship is degraded to adultery or pornography or rape. Gluttony elevates food to a god-like mastery over the life. Entertainment is the deification of Enjoyment.
Paul exhorts the Philippians, saying,

whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

How much of what is called entertainment fits any of these descriptions? One may be tempted to include proficient, well-crafted movies or music or plays or books as “excellent”, but Paul sets the mark high. The Greek word for excellence is aretē, a virtuous course of thought, virtue, moral goodness.
Is there value in entertainment? Is it more than just an “activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time”? What edification comes from tv shows created for the purpose of selling consumers to advertisers? What is commendable about learning all the stats of the coaches and players of games? Is there truth in top 40 radio? “Christian” radio?
King David declares in Psalm 101,

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.

In his Confessions, Augustine laments his fascination as a youth with reading of the wars and murders and adulteries of the gods,

For Thou didst grant me Thy discipline, while I was learning vanities; and my sin of delighting in those vanities Thou hast forgiven. In them, indeed, I learnt many a useful word, but these may as well be learned in things not vain.

So much time is wasted in these things. Moses put it aptly in Psalm 90,

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!

Church discipline

The church in Rome wrote to the Corinthians:

Every sedition and every schism was abominable to you. Ye mourned over the transgressions of your neighbors: ye judged their shortcomings to be your own. (1 Clement 2:6)

This is profound by itself. They had such love for one another that they counted each other’s failings as their own. This is a difficult thing. It is uncomfortable. It may hurt someone’s feelings.
The Romans would do no less. The letter continues:
All glory and enlargement was given unto you, and that was fulfilled which is written My beloved ate and drank and was enlarged and waxed fat and kicked. Hence come jealousy and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and tumult, war and captivity. So men were stirred up, the mean against the honorable, the ill reputed against the highly reputed, the foolish against the wise, the young against the elder.
For this cause righteousness and peace stand aloof, while each man hath forsaken the fear of the Lord and become purblind in the faith of Him, neither walketh in the ordinances of His commandments nor liveth according to that which becometh Christ, but each goeth after the lusts of his evil heart, seeing that they have conceived an unrighteous and ungodly jealousy, through which also death entered into the world.
They call to repentance those that are falling away. They take seriously the warning passages in Hebrews. How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

Liturgy of ascension

From David Chilton’s book The Days of Vengeance:


“The early Christians realized that in order to become the temple of the Holy Spirit they must ascend to heaven where Christ has ascended. They realized also that this ascension was the very condition of their mission in the world, of their ministry to the world. For there – in heaven – they were immersed in the new life of the Kingdom; and when, after this ‘liturgy of ascension,’ they returned into the world, their faces reflected the light, the ‘joy and peace’ of that Kingdom and they were truly its witnesses. They brought no programs and no theories; but wherever they went, the seeds of the Kingdom sprouted, faith was kindled, life was transfigured, things impossible were made possible. They were witnesses, and when they were asked, ‘Whence shines this light, where is the source of its power?’ they knew what to answer and where to lead men. In church today, we so often find we meet only the same old world, not Christ and His Kingdom. We do not realize that we never get anywhere because we never leave any place behind us.”

Lady Wisdom

In Proverbs 9, Solomon contrasts the Lady Wisdom and the foolish woman, Folly. Together they cry out to the simple from the high places in town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

After the invitation to come in, Wisdom instructs,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
But Folly seduces to pleasure,
“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
The “stolen water” refers back to chapter 5,
“Drink from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.”
So, Folly calls to a life of adultery, a leaving of “the wife of your youth,” and running after foreign gods. It is the same as the “teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.” It is a call against “the fear of the Lord” which is “the beginning of wisdom.”
Folly’s call to eat bread in secret is a call to individualism, and is a direct attack on the communion meal of bread and wine offered by the lady Wisdom. Wisdom calls us to the table, the shared meal of Christ with his body.
Come, eat!

Marriage

I’m borrowing heavily from Doug Wilson’s Reforming Marriage. A great book. You can buy it or read it online.

It will be helpful to start with a brief grammar lesson. There is a difference between indicative and imperative statements. An indicative is a statement of fact; there is no ought in it. The chair is brown; the ship is tilting, etc. An imperative is a command; it tells what we must do. Close the door; turn off the tv, and so on. We cannot fall into the trap of trying to turn biblical indicatives into imperatives. When the bible says “the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church (Eph 5:23),” it does not say that the husband ought to be the head. It says he is. Paul isn’t teaching in this verse about the way marriage should be, he’s saying this is what it is. As he goes on, he fleshes out the picture with instruction (imperatives) for husbands to love their wives and for wives to submit to their husbands.

As the head of the marriage, the husband is responsible for everything that happens. He is the one who is held accountable before God. Just like a ship captain is responsible if his craft runs aground when a sailor is at the helm, the husband is responsible when his marriage runs aground. The sailor may be guilty, but the captain is responsible.

There is absolutely no indication in scripture that this is in any way merely cultural or limited to a certain period in history (2 Tim 3:16-17). What is revealed belongs to us and to our children forever. This is the way God arranged things and he did so very much on purpose.

God created the man of dust from the ground (Gen 2). He brought to the man all the animals he had made to see what the man would name them. In considering and exercising dominion over the animals, man saw that there was no helper suitable for himself. God put the man – his son (Lk 3) – to death, took a portion of his side, and built the woman from that which he had taken from the man. The man was not taken from woman, but the woman from man (1 Cr 11:8). This was man’s suitable helper. This was his bride. The two become one flesh. This is Christ and the church.

It is a great mystery, but the marriage of a man and woman, the coming together of the two to become one flesh, is an exquisite picture of Christ and his bride (Eph 5:32). The Father, in the counsel of his will, was pleased to crush his son (Isa 53), to put him to death, and from his side to bring forth his bride. Not just any bride, but a Bride suitable for the Man. A Bride suitable for the King (Song 6:4,5,10,13).

God is a God of covenant. His covenant is a binding, personal relationship between himself and the people he has called out to be his own. His covenant is generational; it is extended down through generations, growing and expanding. It begins with the promise of the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15) and grows to include the world (Mat 28:18-20, Acts 2:33-36). God is a faithful husband to Israel, though they run after other gods (Jer 3:20). He is still a faithful husband to us, the church, and promises to be with us always, and to never leave us or forsake us (Mat 28:20, Heb 13:5). Throughout scripture, God says I will be your God and you will be my people. This relationship between God and his people is most intimately expressed in the Song of Songs as “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

When we see what an awesome picture God has set up with man as his image bearer in the world, showing forth the beauty and intimacy of God with his people, any corruption of this is a grave misrepresentation. Every marriage is a picture of Christ and his bride, the church. The scripture makes no distinction between good and bad marriages, heathen couples or believers. All marriages proclaim to the world how Christ relates to his church. Because of sin and rebellion, many of these pictures are slanderous lies concerning Christ. But a husband can never stop talking about Christ and the church. If he is obedient to God, he is preaching the truth; if he does not love his wife, he is speaking apostasy and lies – but he is always talking.

When a couple separates or divorces each other, they are proclaiming a false image of God. They are telling the world that this is how Christ treats his church. He abandons her. He leaves her unprotected, without covering. He no longer cares for his church. This is why divorce, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and all other sexual immorality are utterly condemned in scripture. It paints a false image of God to the world. This is why idol worship is described as whoring after other gods. It ought not be so.

Christ loves his church. He gives his life for her. He sets her apart and washes her with the water of his word, making her a glorious, radiant bride, a bride fit for the King of kings and the Lord of lords. This is a wonderful thing. In the same way husbands should love their wives.

John 6 chiasm

John 6:53-57
A. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

B. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

C. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

B’. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

A’. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.

Does it make sense if it is restructured helically?
A. Eating the flesh and blood of Jesus is the only source of life
  A’ What is more, He lives in the Father and those that eat His body live in Him
B. Whoever eats from Him has eternal life and resurrection
  B’ What is more, it is a shared communion
C. His flesh and blood are true food and drink

Again?
A/A’ Life proceeds from the Father, through the Son, to those in communion
B/B’ What is more, this communion is an intimate sharing of the very life of God
C What is more, His life is our only sustenance

Matthew 15 chiasm

Mathew 15:1-20 makes a fairly robust chiasm.

A. Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem
and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the
elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”

B. He answered them, “And why do you break the
commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’
and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother,
“What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he
need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your
tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites!

C. Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

D. And he called the people to him and said to them,
“Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the
mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of
the mouth; this defiles a person.”

E. Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you
know that the Pharisees were offended when they
heard this saying?”

E’. He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father
has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone;
they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the
blind, both will fall into a pit.”

D’. But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”
And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?
Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes
into the stomach and is expelled?

C’. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,
and this defiles a person.

B’. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery,
sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These
are what defile a person.

A’. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”