Monday, April 9, 2018

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Try to picture this: teenagers in a seminar for two hours, sitting on concrete the whole time, taking notes, and asking for more when it's over. Fantasyland, you say? No. Haiti. When I was doing youth outreach in Haiti, I was asked to do an early morning seminar for Christian young people in a gym where they were seated on concrete bleachers. I was told to teach for two hours. I did, and I was the first one done. So these kids gathered up their notes and rushed to catch the end of another seminar that hadn't finished yet. Sounds just like American young people you know? Right? Well, you know, when I got back to speaking to young people in America, I knew I had better be done in about twenty minutes or less or I'd be talking to myself. But before we're too rough on North American teenagers, let's realize that they have a disease that afflicts much of the North American Church - a disease that produces spiritual midgets.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Entertainitis."

It's not a new disease. In fact, we can find it in our word for today from the Word of God from John 6:25, among the people who had just experienced the excitement of Jesus' feeding 5,000 people. When He left them to go across the lake, they wanted more. The Bible says, "When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?' Jesus answered them, 'You are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.'"

When Jesus spoke to them about spiritual food, "They asked Him, 'What miraculous sign then will You give that we may see it and believe You?'" (John 6:30). By the time Jesus is finished talking to them about laying down His life and the shedding of blood, verse 66 says, "From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him." Now here was a crowd who was ready to follow Jesus as long as there was a good show, miracles, excited crowds, surprises, good feelings. But as soon as it got serious or demanding, they checked out.

Maybe this is the first known case of entertainitis - an interest in following Jesus as long as it's easy to take, as long as it's fun. I didn't really realize how shallow our faith is until I met Christians in other countries. They know how to pray powerfully and extensively. They're hungry, not for jokes and stories; they want solid Biblical teaching. They're interested in the substance of Christianity, not the style of the speaker. While we're having our socials, they're having revivals! While we accept mediocrity, they're expecting miracles.

We're a product of a media culture where the image, the subject changes every few seconds. But compared to believers in much of the rest of the world, we have like a "Sesame Street" faith. Now the first step toward a cure of this disease is to recognize that we have a disease and that we want a cure. We need to retrain our hearts to look for the truth in a message, not the entertainment value; to look for the Bible in a song, not just the beat; to quit expecting speakers to do all the work for us. "Mr. Speaker, if you'll come about 80% of the way to me, maybe I'll meet you with about 20% of me." See, spiritual grown-ups will pack the auditorium for a sermon, not just for a movie or a concert.

We need to remember that what we're involved in is a war, not a picnic. We need to commit ourselves to the spiritual discipline of being personally taught by God through Bible study every day. Dare to say, "Lord, would you deepen my shallow, 'entertain me' faith.'" 

Entertainitis is a serious disease to deal with. Remember what happened to the people who had it first. They eventually abandoned Jesus.