Entitlement, Entertainment & Enjoyment
It was early morning, the day of American Presidential election (6 November 2012) I was travelling in a taxi from Colorado Springs to Denver. I was feeling sleepy but tried to have a conversation with the forty year old American driver. He eagerly began to speak about his life, profession, family, economy and elections. When I asked about his religious beliefs, he said he was a ‘cynic’; and he began to explain how the churches are irrelevant, super-rich pastors live out of hard earned money of people like him…etc. However, he described himself as ‘spiritual’ and he defined spiritual as believing in God. Genuinely, he was concerned about the younger generation as he was father of a 14 year old girl and 7 year old boy. The newer generation only talks about ‘rights’ and do not like to work hard and earn. In homes there are five TVs and there is no family time. They love to enjoy their weekends and fall of moral values with regards to family relationships and sex outside marriage. I shared with him my spiritual journey of following Lord Jesus Christ. In the flight, I recalled the conversation and thought how Bible was true about human beings.
Apostle John describes the Sin principle that dominates the humanity. He warns the disciples of Christ not to love the world but the Lord. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2: 15-17) The three phrases John uses are so true today, only the vocabulary has changed. Entitlement stands for the Pride of Life; Entertainment stands for the Lust of Eyes; and Enjoyment stands for the Lust of Flesh.
The world around, people like to be entitled for so many things. And there are people who like to give those entitlements and benefits. Civil society endows upon citizens the ‘human rights’. The rights are varied and many are listed by the media. The interesting fact is, when the civil society has authority to provide ‘human rights’ and the same civil society has authority to take it away. Hence, the interpretation about ‘human rights’ varies from culture to culture; nation to nation. A civil society in Middle-East could deprive women of basic dignity and so could it be in India or China.
This entitlement mentality places a person as the centre of the whole universe. He behaves as if he is sun and people around him are planets and stars paying respect and homage. The person enjoys being centre of attraction and attention. The Pride of life expresses itself in the form of entitlement mentality.
She decides not to contribute to welfare of the society by working but demands freebies from the government. For example, a woman could choose to abort an ‘unwanted child’ and the government is expected to pay for the same. The wages of sin is a bonus paid by the government for her medical expenses for abortion. Satan wants to negate the biblical principle of ‘the wages of sin is death’ and bring a principle ‘the wages of sin is special bonus from the government’.
In the recent past, the Indian media is full of horror stories of rape and honour killing. Some of the leaders of the dominating castes were denouncing women and not the crime of rape. The victim was responsible or invited such crime. Men in that civil society have an entitlement mentality that the women do not have dignity or personality and are just objects to fulfill their lust. In brief, they are entitled to any woman they lust and the women should be passive partners.
Rajat Gupta, a hero of Wall Street was convicted for insider trading. He saw his privilege and position as Board member gives him entitlement to use the insider information for his own benefit or dispense such benefit to some of his friends. Covetousness and greed leads to the entitlement mentality.
Today, people like to see, touch and experience. My taxi driver friend was talking about five TVs in five rooms of the house or one for each person living in the house. In my opinion, he was not well aware of the smart phones or iPhones. The mobile phones that was just a communication tool or survival tool (for many poor people around the world) evolved into an entertainment tool.
Entertainment is combined or integrated into several things. Information combined with entertainment becomes ‘infotainment’. Education combined with entertainment becomes ‘edutainment’. The word ‘Vanity’ used in the Bible is too strong, so people have a ‘soft’ word – entertainment. Two decades ago, people while travelling used to read books and magazines. Now, the computer savvy generation plays games or watches movies in their mobile devices.
How is it possible to keep entertainment out of religious life? Now, worship becomes performance and in some places degraded to cheap entertainment.
Young couple who are supposed to be ‘love birds’ play ‘angry birds’ and become angry birds. Teenagers who play car race games do not differentiate between virtual images and actual reality drive as if they do in the games.
Satan has packaged ‘lust of eyes’ as novel entertainment. The slow poison has penetrated all parts of the society and numbed the moral senses; hence bizarre entertainments seem to be ‘normal’.
‘Work five days to enjoy two days.’ The purpose of life is to enjoy, enjoy and enjoy. Living and working for five days for the sake of two days expected enjoyment. God Himself prescribed a day of rest in a week, so that, people could take rest, relax, and to do reality check of their lives. ‘Reality checks’ in the church on Sundays has been replaced by ‘Reality shows’ elsewhere.
‘Lust of flesh’ dominates the culture of enjoyment. Searching and exploring new variety of foods; romantic places; sex before and outside marriage. Now, it is not affair but it is ‘hook up’ culture. Affair had some level of commitment and long term relationship, which is definitely sin. However, ‘hook up’ culture is worse as it is physical relationship without emotional commitment. For Postmodern generation, sex is like a game two players play. A new term ‘Friends With Benefits’ is the new term for those who involve in this dangerous game.
As some live in cyber reality or virtual reality, some like to fulfill their sexual fantasises through pornography in the Internet. For previous generation, to get involved in such sinful activities, effort was needed. They had to go to places seeking such sinful pleasures. For Digital generation, pornography or obscene visual pictures downloads in the computer or phone screen, even without requesting.
E-Generation immune system
The E-generation needs to revamp their immune system to offset toxic influence of popular culture, mass media and social media. For that, at least three things ought to be done.
An author (I forgot his name) wrote long time ago that there is a throne and a cross in every person’s heart. When self is in the throne, Christ is on the cross; when self is on the cross, Christ is on the throne. People who like to follow Lord Jesus Christ should accept him as Creator, Saviour and Lord. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16: 24-26)
Then the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ should be reading, memorizing, meditating, and applying the Word of God in their lives. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2) Mind that has been influenced, shaped and soaked by popular culture and media has to be renewed that will result in transformation. The world cannot squeeze a believer in its mould, but a disciple would transform the world.
Empowerment also happens by the Spirit of God. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) The indwelling person of the Holy Spirit gives disciple boldness. The timid Peter, who denied Lord Jesus Christ in front of a servant maid, became courageous to proclaim or declare the message to a crowd of 3000 people on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit also gives us grace to forgive and love even our enemies.
While the world worships individualism, bible teaches a balance of relationships. It is not being totally dependent or totally independent, but toe be inter-dependent. True enrichment comes by living together in harmonious relationships; honouring one another; building one another; sharing the burden of one another; serving one another…etc. The Local Church becomes the ideal place for such relationship that results in nurture and enrichment of a disciple of Lord Jesus Christ. A sharing and caring relationship edifies, enriches a community of believers.
Quoting Peter, I would like to conclude: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11 & 12) This is a choice we have to make in response to our calling in Lord Jesus Christ.