Amusing the Church to Death
The vast culture of entertainment is pulling Christians away from the Lord and infiltrating the Church to the point where there is no difference anymore between the Church and the world. Nate Danser discusses this strategy of the Enemy and points us to where this alarming trend inevitably leads.
Nate, can you introduce the subject of amusement by defining it and describing how it relates to the Christian life?
The word "muse" is not very commonly used today, but it means “to be absorbed in thought” or “to think about something carefully and thoroughly.” I think, by extension, that those thoughts deeply impact the way the life is actually lived. We see this concept in Scripture: "If you have been raised with Christ...set your minds on things above" (Colossians 3:1-2). That whole passage is about putting off our old sin nature and putting on the nature of God. But one of the ways that happens is to think deeply and to set our minds on the things of God. So if you put the prefix "a-" in front of "muse," it means “to not think” or “to not consider.” And it began to strike me that American culture is obsessed with amusement.
In the message I preached about this subject, I outlined what could be the typical day of an American...or even an American Christian. You wake up, you listen to your favorite music or check Facebook and social media. You get in the shower, and you turn on an online radio station or a podcast. You are on your way to work, and you listen to an audiobook. Then you get to work, and you've got music playing throughout your whole day. At the end of the day, you go out to dinner, and the TV is on. Then, maybe you go out to a movie with some friends. You go home, and you go to sleep with Spotify on. And then, you wake up, and you do the whole thing again tomorrow. Our culture is obsessed with amusement. And unfortunately, this culture of amusement is utterly in opposition to the spirit of Jesus and the Christian life. You cannot be a Christian and live your life that way, because that contradicts the clear commands of Scripture—that we "set our minds on things above". We cannot do that if our life is filled with amusement. So the title of the message I preached was "Satan Is Extremely Amusing."
If amusement is a part of the plan of our spiritual Enemy, what is the strategy behind this approach?
I'm reminded of the parable of the seed and the sower. In the parable, you have a type of soil which is called “thorny ground.” And Jesus tells us that the thorny-ground hearers are "the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (Mark 4:18-19). So I believe that the culture of amusement is all designed to keep people who are professing Christians from bringing fruit to maturity—which destroys the harvest of God that he wants to see in both that person's life and in other people's lives.
The Bible talks about sowing the Word of God. The Word of God is thoughts and ideas and concepts that—when planted in a good and an honest heart—begin to change the actual life to conform with the Word of God. So when Jesus says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep," if our lives are filled with other things, we don't have time to do that. When he says, "Seek first the kingdom of God," if our time and our energy are taken up with the things of the world, we cannot fulfill that commandment—which ends up destroying the harvest. And so I believe that the whole culture of amusement in America is designed to do exactly that: to destroy what could be a fruitful harvest.
You mentioned the "thorns" in the parable of the sower. Can you give some examples of "thorns" in a Christian's life?
It seems to me from what Jesus says—"the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things"—that some of those things are inherently harmful. Pornography would obviously be a thorn. I mean, I'm not even sure you'd call that a thorn; I think that's just poisonous seed that bears a harvest of wickedness. But newspapers, magazines, television, social media, the internet...all of these things, I believe, would easily fit within the category of "the desires for other things." I recognize this in my own life. It's not like I'm immune from this or have completely overcome. What happens to us when we've got something that we want to do, and a need arises? I've got my favorite TV show scheduled for 7:30, and suddenly someone calls me, and they're in need. What happens in our heart? Does the need to take second place? If so, that is a thorn that is keeping the Word of God from bearing the harvest in our lives. Or, if we somehow organize things that are important around all of the things that we love and that are not eternally important, these are thorns. When the priorities of our lives are things that do not matter, it’s choking out a harvest.
Pastor Steve Gallagher, Pure Life's founder, has written books like Intoxicated with Babylon and other teachings where he discusses the end-times apostasy. In those teachings, I learned that our culture is going in a direction, and we know what that direction is. It is the Battle of Armageddon, where the forces of Antichrist come head-to-head with the forces of Jesus. The Enemy has to get the world to that point. How is he going to do it? There have to be practical things in place that bring the war into his mindset. And these things are clear to me and clear to him. It is popular culture that is creating the kind of environment where people will eventually rise up against Jesus.
You mentioned end-times apostasy—the spiritual battle to deceive humanity. Can you bring that concept down to a practical level?
The mindset of our Enemy is pleasure at any cost. And when we are feeding our souls and our minds with his mindset—through television, social media, movies and music—we really don't get to determine what kind of fruit that is going to have in our lives. When we take in his mindset, his life is going to find expression in our life. And sometimes that's going to mean pornography. A lot of people don't want the fruit, but they want the seed—the movies, music, television, and social media. What we have to teach people is that it's the love of the world that is making it possible for pornography to flourish in your life. If the love of the world is rooted out, then the pornography will go, but until you deal with the root, you cannot find freedom from the fruit.
If people want to be "in the world but not of the world," what steps do they need to take?
One of the things that was so helpful for me was being in the Residential Program, because for nine months, I was separated; I didn't have a choice. And it was in that environment of being separated from the world and being separated unto God that some of these things began to become more clear. I would say to somebody reading this that if you are in pornography or in sexual sin and you want to be changed, unplug! Unplug from social media, unplug your TV, and unplug the music. Do it for a space of time, and seek the Lord. Because He will begin to give you His wisdom and His perspectives on things. Then, when you begin to view and listen to some of those things again, you will start to hear the message behind those things, and that will help you. If you're just in it all the time, you cannot see what the Enemy is doing in your heart and your mind. But when you unplug and you begin to soak yourself in the Spirit of God, you start to hear the Devil's voice. And if you have wisdom, you'll flee.
This excerpt is from our podcast episode, "The Church Addicted: Love for this World or for God?” Episode #347.
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