One of our members asked me about a worldview on having fun. She wondered if she was supposed to have fun, and she expressed how there seems to be an element of mystery about what fun should look like for a Christian.
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Are Christians supposed to have fun? If so, what constitutes fun for the believer? Do you have a “fun theology?” Let’s get personal: Do you have fun? Are you a fun person?
It is not unusual to run into Christians who are “un-fun,” or they are unhappy. I’m not speaking of those who are going through grief or a season of suffering. I’m talking about believers whose disposition is unhappiness.
They do not smile a lot, can be quick-tempered, and more than likely cynical. (Cynicism is a growing numbness toward life, coupled with suspicion toward people.) It is as though life has slapped them in the face one too many times and they have given up joy, happiness and biblical fun in God’s world.
Christo-centric fun is not an option for them. These Christians present an awkward and out-of-step persona that confuses their secular counterparts. It is like the convicts are having all the fun while those on the “freedom side of the razor wire” are miserable.
It appears that these unhappy Christians are angrier than their secular counterparts, which is odd when you consider who has adopted them. It is the difference between the unhappy rich kid and the unhappy poor kid. Both of them are unhappy, but because the rich kid is wealthy, his unhappiness seems worse.
The wealthy child’s problems are not nearly as significant as the problems of the poor kid because of the affluence of his daddy. At least you can understand the sadness of the down and out child.
The Christian’s worst nightmare has become the most beautiful dream a person could ever imagine. God has completely and irrevocably secured his life and placed him in the hands of the Almighty (John 10:28-30; 1 Peter 1:4).
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Romans 8:29
The convicts should be more frustrated, disgruntled, and hopeless. The Lord is not their Lord. They are on a direct flight to hell. Though the saved and unsaved may participate in the same secular events, they should not enjoy them equally.
A Christian enjoying a ball game can do so from a position of having his debt forgiven and freedom secured. God has miraculously unhooked the believer from the tentacles of shame, guilt, and condemnation. He has been set free to enjoy all of life.
He should not save his joy until Sunday morning, as though the weekly gatherings are the only places he can have fun. Christians should live life heartily because their most significant problem in life was taken care of at the cross.
A seven-year-old boy attending a ball game with his daddy will thoroughly enjoy it if he has the assurance of his father’s love for him. Knowing that God is for you releases you to live all of life in that freedom (Romans 8:31; Hebrews 11:6).
I know what it is like to live under the critical eye and abusive backslap of an earthly father. Life with him was always “eggshell walking,” as you wondered when we would be abused in some way. My heavenly Father is nothing like that, and it has been this growing awareness that has released me to have more fun, more often, throughout my day, and in any context–since I became a follower of Jesus.
Fun, like everything else we do, grows out of your heart. What you are on the inside determines how you live on the outside. There is no discontinuity between who you are and what you do (Luke 6:45; James 4:1-2).
If you are not free to have fun, the first place to begin working through this problem is inside of you. There is something wrong with your “spiritual person” that binds you from the freedom you could enjoy in God’s world.
Because of the wicked cravings of the unsaved person’s heart, they cannot find deep, rich, and satisfying fun in what they do, which is, in part, why they live for the weekends. Work is not enjoyable, but the weekend is.
The Christian lives a fuller life, not wasting the weeks away, waiting for the long-anticipated, but short-lived weekend so they can dip their toe into a few milliseconds of fun before they get back to the doldrums of life, called the work week.
We live more zealously because we are on a mission from God. For us it is not about work or play, but about bringing glory to God in all that we do. There is nothing more fun (enjoyable or pleasurable) than thinking about how to accomplish this grandest of goals.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Three common heart conditions exist for the person who does not have fun. These spiritual conditions are fear, discontentment, and anger. If you have ongoing patterns with any one of these things, you will struggle to enjoy life.
Fear – A person who is overly concerned about what others think about them is bound to their opinions rather than God’s view of them (Proverbs 29:25). If this is the case, they are not free to have fun. Fear stands guard around their hearts, which keeps them in bondage.
For example, if you grew up in a legalistic church culture that convinced you it was a sin to go to a movie, your concern for the opinions of your legalistic friends will cripple your ability to think biblically, and it would hinder you from enjoying your day.
The best you could do is peer through the razor wire watching the convicts line up for the movie theater. If you do not shed this fear-based thinking, you will soon become bitter. Or worse, you may walk away from the stringent harshness of a cold religion.
Another example is a person who has lived in an abusive authoritarian context. Whether it was a mean dad or harsh spouse, in time, you will start believing lies, never sure who is right–you or them.
The abused person becomes a second-guesser, always doubting what is right and wrong (James 1:5-8). A lingering darkness hovers over their souls, and they never delight in the joys of a God-centered life.
Discontentment – Without sound theological moorings to sustain you and a growing awareness of the freedom that you have in Christ, you will become that Christian peering through the razor wire.
Your discontentment will grow as you become an observer of life while detached from enjoying the fullness that the Lord provides. Rather than deepening your walk in Christ, you will wither from the inside out.
The temptation will be to give tacit acknowledgement to the Christ-life while pursuing “fun” like the world, those who do not understand the gospel. They have not profoundly tasted the victory we have in Jesus.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3
If discontentment is the flavor of your heart, you are going to be perusing the candy section, looking for a quick fix, rather than engaging and enjoying the fullness of God’s bounty.
Anger – The result of fear and discontentment is the frustrated heart. These things working together will make you angry, which is a set up for a trap. In time, you will overreact by throwing off the shackles of religion and begin acting like the world.
Those coming out of a legalistic culture, whether it is a condemning church environment or a critical home, do this. They jump from legalism to licentiousness because they want to have “fun.”
In their haste to get away from the strictures of a no fun religion, they jump “over the gospel” and fall flat into hedonistic pleasure-seeking. They would not characterize themselves as angry, fearful, or discontented but if you spent enough time with them, you would discern these things in their hearts.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
This kind of person will need mentoring before they will enjoy the freedom that God offers through His Word. It’s the kind of freedom that will keep him out of the ditches of (1) no fun at all or (2) the shallow fun of our culture.
Sometimes a person will ask, “What are some fun things to do?” Fun can be anything you enjoy doing as long as your aim is God’s fame. My wife is my “fun” so being with her is one of the most pleasurable things that I could ever do.
I think the same about my children. I also have fun writing, doing my job, watching a movie, hugging any family member, and going on food adventures. I used to have fun taking care of my lawn. I don’t enjoy it as much now.
I love thinking about God, life, and people. In that way, I can take my fun with me wherever I go because I can muse on these things at any time and in any context. I enjoy ballgames less and less. I enjoy Christ-centered small group gatherings more and more.
If you do not have any fun things to do, ask others what they do to have fun and give it a try. It might not float your boat, but you will not know until you put your boat on the water.
Be careful about who you pick to be your fun-mates. You do not want to compromise your walk with the Lord. I have the most fun with God and His children, but only those children who have a full-hearted desire to follow Him.
While I can have fun with lukewarm Christians, there is an element of guardedness with them because of their low-grade passion for the Lord. The zenith of all fun is when two people are enjoying God together in any context. Nothing transcends this kind of fun.
Be biblically free, my friend – One of the cool things about going to a game or a restaurant with another Christian is you can laugh loudly as well as enjoy deep and intimate fellowship.
Like wind moving through a tree, you can seamlessly go from hearty laughter to heartfelt conversation. This kind of engagement with God and others, while enjoying the things of our world, is as good as it gets.
I will end this piece by sharing with you my all-time favorite fun-quote that explains why Christians should be the loudest people in the restaurant.
Laughter is a divine gift to the human who is humble. A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity; he cannot give himself over to the rocking and rolling of his belly. But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego….
Only the truly humble belong to this kingdom of divine laughter…Humor and humility should keep good company. Self-deprecating humor can be a healthy reminder that we are not the center of the universe, that humility is our proper posture before our fellow humans as well as before almighty God. -Terry Lindvall (Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C. S. Lewis)
Also published on Medium.