Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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Okay, try to picture this. Here's a group of maybe a hundred teenagers in a seminar for two hours, sitting on concrete the whole time, taking notes the whole time, and asking for more when the seminar is dismissed. You say, "Whoa! What planet were you on?" That was in Haiti when I was there a few years ago, teaching in a workshop in a gymnasium. Now, the only place to sit was in the balcony, and in the balcony of that gym it was all concrete. They told me to take two hours. Wow! I said, "I could talk here all the time!" Okay, I could probably figure out something to say for two hours, and I did. Believe it or not, I was the first one finished! I know that's pretty hard for you to believe that I finished first, but I really did. Give me two hours and I can. Well, they quickly ran to the next seminar to get some more.
Now, I returned to America, and you know you'd better be done in 20 minutes here or you'll be talking to yourself. Unless, of course, you're funny enough to be like a Christian comedian. Let's not be too rough on our teenagers; they happen to have a disease that afflicts the whole American church. And it is a disease that produces spiritual midgets.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Entertainitis."
Our word for today from the Word of God follows the feeding of the 5,000, where it says in John 6:14, "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the prophet who was to come into the world.'" Well, they chased Him all the way across the lake of Galilee, and when they found Him on the other side of the lake, it says they asked Him, "'Rabbi, when did you get here?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, you're looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.'" In verse 30 they asked Him, "What miraculous sign will You give that we may see it and believe You? What will you do?"
Finally, after Jesus begins to talk to them about the shedding of blood and a cross, in verse 66 it says, "From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him." Now, here's a crowd, and they are ready to follow Jesus as long as there was a good show: miracles, excited crowds, cheers, surprises, songs, good feelings. But as soon as it got serious or demanding, as soon as it cost something, they checked out - the first known case of entertainitis. Yep, interest in spiritual input as long as it's easy to take.
I didn't realize how shallow our faith here is until I met Christians in other countries. They know how to pray powerfully, extensively. They're hungry, not for jokes and stories, but for solid, biblical teaching. They're interested in the substance of Christianity, not the style of the speaker. And while we're having socials, they're having revivals. While we accept mediocrity, they're expecting miracles.
Now, we're a product of a media culture; kind of a Sesame Street, Internet pop-up approach that changes the subject every 60 seconds. But compared to believers in the rest of the world, we have a Sesame Street faith. The first step toward the cure of entertainitis is to recognize the disease and to want a cure. We need to begin to re-train our hearts to look for the truth in a message, not the entertainment value; to look for the Bible in a song, not the beat; to quit expecting speakers to do all the work for us; to pack the auditorium for a sermon, not just for a concert or a special event; to understand this is a war, not a picnic.
Most important, we need to commit ourselves to the spiritual discipline of a personal Bible study - time with Jesus that starts every day. That's the anchor of an authentic Christian life. Maybe it's time we say, "Lord, I'm tired of being so deep into my shallow, entertaining faith. I want to get rid of this disease of entertainitis."
Remember what happened to the people who had it first? They eventually abandoned Jesus.