The idea of entertainment has gotten a bad rap of late – especially in evangelical Christian circles. We equate entertainment with vapid, thin, worldly substitutes for substantive, “thick”, spiritual Truth. One need only look at the current crop of libidinous TV sitcoms, or our insatiable lust for technology-as-substitute-for-relationship to justify our condescension toward entertainment.
But, lest we toss out the delightful baby with the disgusting bathwater, take a moment to reconsider the idea of entertainment. Entertainment is an effect. We are entertained when we are delighted, pleasantly surprised, amused by a show of some kind, a performance – a spectacle.
In 1 Corinthians 4:9, 10 Paul uses a theatrical term to underscore our role as actors in God’s great cosmic show:
4:9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. 4:10 We are fools for Christ… (NET)
The Greek word translated “spectacle” is theatron, the word from which we get our word “theater.” We act out our roles on the world stage as “fools for Christ.” The world considers us foolish, when in fact, we are representing Christ as His actors, His mimes (see my blog on mimesis), showing the world what Jesus looks like.
Shakespeare employed this irony when he re-formed the Renaissance “jester” into an Elizabethan “fool,” often serving as a repository of wit and wisdom for kings and their courts.
‘That, of course, is the great secret of the successful fool – that he is no fool at all.’
Isaac Asimov, Guide to Shakespeare.
The revelation of God to the world is nothing short of spectacular. It will delight the audience for whom it has been prepared – though certainly, it will also invite the disdain of those who foolishly reject wisdom. Our showing of Christ will provoke even as it entertains.
The best entertainment does not simply amuse as a diversion from the harsh realities of life. Rather, it focuses on Truth at the core of our living, and offers hope that we are not abandoned to the Matrix, as depicted in the movie by that name – a world of illusion that masks the real world. The matrix hides a world so devoid of beauty and hope that the only way to survive is to pretend that the real world doesn’t exist. In the Matrix the spectacle, the theatron, is a lie. In Christ, our spectacle is Truth.
God calls each of us to be actors in His drama. To be entertainers in the best sense of the word. To reveal Christ on the world stage as entertainment par excellence. Not only are we to entertain, but we can enjoy art as entertainment to the glory of God. Here’s one approach to help us truly enjoy the arts as entertainment that will point us to God:
ARTS – Anticipate, Receive, Think, Share.
Anticipate – start each day by asking the Lord to prepare your heart for beauty.
Receive – don’t take a notepad to the symphony – just receive it, enjoy it, appreciate it, let it wash over you, through you.
Think – evaluate the show; measure it against what you know to be good, and pure, and excellent.
Share – dialogue with others; share your perspective and listen (that’s part of sharing) to theirs.
Entertain me! Show me Christ. Enjoy the beauty of His creation, His word. His life! Then, go tell the world.