“And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). The world has always offered man pleasure. It has always suffocated spirituality because men love darkness rather than light (John 3:19). Men have always wanted to play and have fun rather than work. They have always wanted to be entertained more than to be serious about spiritual matters. This desire is worldliness at its core.
What we sometimes fail to realize is that this mindset was common long before modern gadgets and playthings. Centuries before smart phones, cars, jets and cruise ships, people sought the pleasures of life. They wanted the best food, the nicest clothes, the most comfortable houses, and the most exciting forms of entertainment. This craving characterized people in Noah’s time, people in Jesus’ time, and people today. In every case, this attitude always has the same effect: it leaves people with little interest in spiritual things. Whatever religion is left is cold and lifeless, and religious leaders are expected to be shallow advisors instead of convicting preachers of the Word.
I was recently reminded of how little life has changed. A homeschooling history book describes the religious climate of New England in the 1700’s (America: Land I Love, Beka, 1994, p.69). A Connecticut historian described the situation by saying that “the forms of religion were kept, but there appeared but little of the power of it.” He added that the preachers of the period “contented themselves with preaching a cold, unprincipled and lifeless morality.” Even without temptations we consider to be modern and unique to our generation, these early Americans were absorbed with worldly cares and pleasures and had little concern about their souls.
What a warning this case should be to us! The craving for worldly pleasures quickly stifles the power of the Word of God in our lives! We must make sure as individuals that we are spiritually minded. We must fight as the church to resist the trend to become an entertainment center. We must keep the focus of the pulpit and classrooms on teaching the Word of God in all its power. Let us learn from the past instead of repeating it.