Recently, I had the privilege of flying with United Airlines out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. In transit and out of curiosity, I began to read the in-flight magazine provided in the seat pocket. An article concerning Mardi Gras caught my eye which I found informative and revealing. Part of it reads as follows:
"Mardi Gras began on New Year's Eve in 1830, when Michael Kraft and his friends borrowed' cowbells, rakes and pitchforks from a local hardware store and paraded noisily until early morning, creating the first mystic parading society in America, the Cowbellion de Rakin Society." Thus began a tradition.”
Initially the article was amusing, until I considered the full scope of what began as a wild, careless night for a few men. As I considered the article, I came to the sad conclusion that the spirit of Mardi Gras is all to common. In such silly abandon, we recognize the dangers of a spirit of foolishness, which fuels such behavior.
Our nation is gripped by the spirit of Mardi Gras, from competitive organized baseball, to the Super Bowl, to NASCAR, to parades, circuses, drama, dancing and gambling, all the way down to community fairs, amusement events, etc. We live in a day of pleasure seeking without shame or apology.
How could we expect anything less, because the pursuit of pleasure is a product of an empty heart seeking and longing for satisfaction in ways that will never fully satisfy. It has been said that "sin is the pursuit of happiness outside of God."
Of course, we recognize the dangers of such appetites. Our direction and focus in life may not allow us to sup at the table of worldly carnal pleasures.
Solomon, in his winter years, understood the fruitless pursuit of happiness outside of God. Consider his testimony, "I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit" (Eccl 1:12-14).
Such despondent words from a wise man, a man who was unwilling to take his own advice. Solomon feasted at the table of his carnal pleasure, and found it's sweetness fleeting. He needed to return again and again to try to fill the emptiness in his soul. It took Solomon a lifetime to comprehend the futility of pleasure seeking. Solomon concludes the book of Ecclesiastes on a much firmer note with "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh" (Eccl 12:1) and "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl 12:13). If we are able to learn from Solomon's mistakes, it will save us a lifetime of regret.
We should avoid worldly amusement because:
"Evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor 15:33).
" . . .the friendship of the world is enmity with God. . whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).
"That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).
The pursuit of pleasure distracts away from God! Jesus spoke of seed sown among thorns; as the sower sowed seed, some fell among thorns. In time, the seed (the Word of God) was not able to compete against the influence of the weeds (the cares and riches and pleasures of this life); the seed was unable to bring fruit to perfection and perished (Lk 8:14).
No evidence in the Scriptures, indicate that Jesus attended the venues of entertainment of His day. In fact, the opposite seems true. Jesus avoided secular pleasure establishments as much as possible. He often chose the seclusion of Jordan, or the open spaces of Galilee in which to minister and find relaxation. We would do well to follow His example.
Instead of reveling and dining at the tables of carnal pleasures, God invites us into a place of quiet repose and reflection, where we are "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2Cor 3:18). As we experience this process of transformation, we become less and less interested in that which allures our carnal appetites, possibly to the point that we may question why we were ever interested initially. As the songwriter so ably encourages us, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace."
- Elizebethtown, PA
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