Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 5, 1958

Christian Recreation

Doyle Banta, Decatur, Alabama

As one approaches a study of Christian recreation. he must bear in mind that it is not possible for man to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). There is a way that may seem right, but the end might be death (Prov. 14:12). Christian recreation cannot be determined by my personal interest, my likes or dislikes, whether it be popular or meets mans approval. We should follow God's teaching in the matter.

Recreation is a positive term. Too often it is considered negatively, that is, "What can I do and still be a Christian?" Almost invariably a catalogue of commercialized amusements offered by the world today are detailed with the prefix, "You can't do this and still be a Christian." In order to appreciate this subject a definition of "Christian" and "Recreation' is necessary.

Christian can be defined the following way. One who belongs to Christ. One bought with a price and no longer his own (1 Cor. 7:23; 6:19-20). A Christian is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). He has new thoughts (Phil 4:8), new desires, new purposes (Rom. 12:1-2) and a new goal. The Christian occupies a new sphere. He is above the world (Jno. 12:32). lie is a servant of righteousness (Acts 10:34-35) who once lived in the flesh (Rom. 6:1618), but now lives in the Spirit (Rom. 8:12-14). A Christian is working toward perfection (Heb. 6:1) and eterna' life (1 Tim. 6:12, 17-19; 1 Jno. 5:11).

Recreation is defined this way. To recreate, create anew. The Christian's definition is not the world's definition. The world is unable to distinguish between recreation and dissipation. To the world recreation is synonomous with amusement. That is, whatever appeals to the eye, satitates the desires of the flesh, and contributes to popularity.

The Christian distinguishes between recreation and dissipation. Recreation is not always amusing. Amusement is not always recreational. Study is recreational, but not amusing. Lascivious literature is amusing, but not recreational. To the Christian,' recreation is not synonomous with amusement. A Christian is interested in tha' which builds spiritually, morally and physically.

Recreational Units

The home is a recreational unit. It molds the immature personalities. It commands mature affection and loyalty. Many modern homes are not recreational units but many of the older homes were. The father organized farm activities. The mother supervised the household tasks. The children were definitely interested in the success of the home as an economic, educational and recreational unit. The older homes believed in hard work and frugal habits. It believed in practical education. The homes of years gone by were recreational in that they studied the Bible daily, prayed daily, enjoyed mealtime association, fireside discussions and group entertainments. The home should and must be a recreational unit.

It is not the duty of the church to furnish recreation but Christian fellowship, prayer, Bible study, singing, church meetings, etc. are recreational.

Christians also have other sources of recreation such as nature. Yes, we can go walking, traveling, and camping, Nature provides much recreation. Mental travel, good books such as geography, history, poetry, fiction etc., also with uplifting conversations is recreational. Bodily exercise such as swimming (not mixed bathing with both men and women), tennis, volleyball, softball, soccer, badminton, basketball, golf, horseshoes, table tennis, etc. provide good recreation under the right circumstances.

Choosing recreation for Christians is a great problem for some and should always employ our deepest consideration. There are not many iron clad rules that can be laid down, so therefore, we must consider certain principles honest answers and actions to these questions will keep our recreation right. Make a test as to your recreation.

First, is it right? Paul declared that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). It is not a question always of what is wrong with it, but what is right about it? AP sensible people should be able to determine whether a thing is wrong or right, but a Christian must.

Second, does it violate my conscience? "But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin?' (Rom. 14:23). Even though a thing be right, yet we had been taught that it was wrong, then we would be violating our conscience to engage in such. I do not advocate letting one's conscience be his guide. A conscience is only right when it has been guided by the Bible.

Third, will it cause others to stumble? Jesus warns us about causing others to stumble (Mt. 18:7-8). Paul gives a similar warning concerning the eating of meats (1 Cor. 10:23-33). A Christian will be most careful about his actions in order to keep some one from stumbling. One glass of beer most likely will not make you drunk but it will certainly hinder your influence and cause some one to stumble. You may be strong, but remember that the person watching may be weak and your actions would cause him to stumble. It is a serious thing to cause people to stumble.

Fourth, do people generally approve it or will it bring reproach on the church ? Just because a thing is generally approved does not mean that Christians may engage, but one thing sure a Christian must avoid that which is no' generally approved. Christ teaches us to let our light shine before men, that the Father in heaven may be glorified (Matt. 5:16). Christians should be concerned about Eph. 5:27 which reads, "that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Anything which will hurt your influence must be avoided. There are many games right within themselves, but where it will blemish your life you must refrain.

Fifth, can I afford the cost? We are taught in the Word to count the cost (Lk. 14:25-33). Maybe you like golf, but can you afford the cost? Can you still support the Church liberally and play the game? Will you have to give less to the church in order to engage in such? Golf is generally approved and is good for the body, but when a person spends more on that and fails to give to the church as he has been prospered, then it becomes wrong. I am, afraid too many do what they desire and let the church go unsupported.

Sixth, will it lead into doubtful company? We must remember the sacred warning, "Be not deceived: Evil companionship corrupt good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33).

Seventh, does it conflict in my duty as a Christian? We are told to put the kingdom first (Mt. 6:33). Does the thing in which you engage cause you to take less interest in the church? Does it keep you from attending the services? Do you do less praying, studying, personal work etc.? If so, then it is wrong.

Eighth, does it cultivate an inordinate fleshly desire? We are admonished by Paul to be careful along this line (Col. 2:20-23). I think that this question would eliminate mixed bathing, dancing and such like.

Ninth, is it destructive to your body? We are told in Rom. 12-1-2 to take care of our bodies. A similar exhortation is given in 1 Cor. 3:16-17. What the world calls recreational many times destroys our bodies. In such, a Christian must not engage.

Tenth, would Jesus do it? We are told to walk in His steps. Would Jesus go where you go and do the things you do? Before you do such, why ask yourself the above question? Doing such and faithfully carrying out the right answer would keep us from doing many things it which we engage.

A Christian is a new creature. There are so many things beyond question in which one can engage so that there is no reason to participate in that which is doubtful The home, the church and nature are great recreational sources. The Christian has before him the warmth of the home, fellowship of saints, overflowing magnificence of God's handiwork and the uplifting fruit of the earth's greatest minds. A Christian does not need to depend upon the "crutches" of Commercialized worldly amusements. They are superfluous to living of a rich, wholesome, useful and happy life.