Fun: an Essay
by Marc Zeedar,
I have experienced a revolution.
It started when I realized I hated being a Christian. I've
known for a while that I was reluctant to call myself a 'Christian,' but
I thought this had to do with my hesitance to associate myself with the
hypocritical and stereotypical Christian images.
I now know that I perceived Christianity to be such a burden
that I wanted no part of it. Christianity, to me, was the politics of churchgoing:
semi-sincere smiles, long and hypocritical preaching, the 'universal' desire
to be elsewhere, and the public show of prayer. In short, Christianity was
I hated church and it was a mystery to me why I or anyone
else tolerated being there. (Those there always seemed to be anxious enough
to get out.)
So in the latter part of my senior year of high school
I stopped going to church. In part this was a boycott; it was my way of
protesting hypocrisy. Mostly I did not enjoy church, and I usually found
I could reach a spiritual "high" even better on my own, just me
and my God. There was no value in church.
It has now been over four years since I have gone to church
regularly. Yet it is important to understand that this had relatively little
effect on my spiritual life.
In high school and in college I was learning to think;
so of course I applied the techniques I had learned in debate and essay-writing
to Christianity. Under this analysis Christianity sank like a stone boat,
but God stood up to scrutiny. There was no hypocrisy in Him.
As I result I began to intellectualize God; I needed Him
to be explainable, understandable, convenient. In time I formed my own mental
image of God, infinitely rational and logical.
It was thus that my faith remained unshaken. Unfortunately
there were problems. I knew that God wanted me to go to church and He wanted
me to tell others about His Plan. But I couldn't (wouldn't) go to church,
and I couldn't tell others about God because He only belonged to me. As
an image in my mind I could not fully explain Him. Worse yet, based on my
debate experience, I knew I could in no way engage anyone in a test of knowledge
about God-they would probably know more scripture than I did! I mean, I
did not even know what the Assemblies of God believed. And there was that
church obstacle-if Christians couldn't understand my view, how could non-Christians?
Now the logical conclusion to the above obstacles would
be to clarify my values and to diligently devote myself to learning all
about my God. But doing that would mean studying the Bible, which would
be boring, and I wasn't going to do anything boring.
So for the past couple of years I drifted aimlessly in
the spiritual cage I built. I was happy inside, but could not communicate
my happiness to anyone, and I could not escape.
Over the past few months I began to feel God pressuring
me to take a stand and believe something. (Every time I heard the verse
about being either cold or hot-not warm-my blood would run cold.)
I was becoming my own nightmare-the ultimate hypocrite.
(I guess you've noticed that I abhor hypocrisy.) I had a personally relationship
with Christ that I couldn't explain, and I wasn't fulfilling a Christian's
Then God gave me a book. It was by an author I heard speak
at Bethany, and whom I had a great respect, mostly because he so bluntly
stated the Gospel, regardless of whether or not it was what people wanted
The book is Who Switched the Price Tags? by Tony Campolo.
I noticed it had something to do with Christian values in a modern world,
and that was enough. I was confused and I knew it, and though I knew the
Bible would have the answers I needed, I was reluctant to open it.
But I did open Campolo's book. Every word spoke to my heart
as though he had been studying me for years and written the book just for
The first shock was Campolo's use of the F-word. I had
never heard a Christian use it, let alone use it to describe Christianity.
I described Christianity with the B-word, Boredom, but Campolo called it
What? Christians are allowed to have, God forbid, FUN???
This I had never heard. But in the very first sentence
of the introduction Campolo writes: "This book is about having fun."
This was revolutionary. It so fit my philosophy of life
that I was stunned. Was there hope? Could I be a Christian and have fun
Before I continued I must backtrack for a moment and tell
you about an important philosophy of my life and how I came to believe it.
In fifth grade I had a teacher named Mrs. E. Now this was
while I was in Africa, and this teacher was a personal friend of my mother,
and as a result, of my own.
However, in class, this made for awkward situations (at
least for me). I was rebellious and rude, and not at all nice to this person
who was a friend when not my teacher. I remember one particular incident
in which I wanted to read instead of listen, and proceeded to do so in spite
of Mrs. E's admonishments. Finally she told me to put the book on her desk,
and in a rage I threw the book at her desk, knocking off a potted plant
of which she was fond.
Almost immediately I felt ashamed. Here I had destroyed
the personal property of a friend, and only because I was selfish. I don't
remember exactly what happened after that, except that did not receive the
punishment I expected. (I expected to be thrown off the balcony [we were
on the second floor]. That's what I would have done if I had been her.)
In fact, I am not sure if I received any kind of punishment
at all. (It didn't matter anyway, because I was truly sorry-and not getting
punished only made me feel worse.) What I do remember, however, was a conversation
that stemmed from this event.
I told Mrs. E that I hadn't felt like working, that was
why I was reading. Then she told me something curious, so curious because
it was coming from an adult. She told me I didn't have to work. She told
me I didn't have to do anything. I didn't have to breathe, if I so desired.
Wow! This was great! The bane of my existence was having
to do things I didn't want to (like going to church). This was the solution
to all my problems . . . .
"Of course," said Mrs. E, "you have to live
with the consequences."
Woah! Hold those horses! This didn't change anything. If
there still were consequences . . . .
But I soon came to the conclusion that it did make a difference.
A big difference. Because now I looked at every action I took as a choice.
If I chose to take the consequences, I could. It was up to me.
At that moment I became an adult. From then on, every choice
I made, from breathing to fighting, I made the choice. I lived with the
consequences. I took the risks and reaped the rewards.
So at the age of twelve, I resolved never to do anything
I did not want to do. (This might sound selfish, but I believe it is a freeing
philosophy-it gives you the control of your own fate. A person who gives
his own life to save that of another [the ultimate act of selflessness]
is still acting under his own free will.) And since I was a kid, that meant
I would never do anything that wasn't fun. (Unless the consequences were
too undesirable, and much of the time they were.)
So, back to Campolo-my philosophy of life is to have fun,
and here Campolo comes along and says that religion is fun! (Sounds like
the perfect match, eh?)
I was so excited. Religion was fun!
Now I can guess what you are thinking: "If his religion
wasn't fun before, what makes it fun now?" To support this, Campolo
spends many pages showing how a person's attitude is all that matters. If
you believe you are having fun, you really will have fun, whether you are
washing dishes, kicking a soccer ball, or having your teeth drilled.
For me, however, those pages were not needed, because I
was already well aware of that fact. Many times I have made unpleasant chores
fun by simply deciding that they should be fun. Almost every routine thing
I do (like driving) is a game to me. It is great.
And the same applies to whatever God wants me to do. A
few weeks ago I would have rather died than become a pastor. Now that does
not seem awful at all, if that is what God wants for me.
My problem with Christianity was that I regarded it as
a necessary evil. It never occurred to me that Christianity was supposed
to be fun. By simply mentioning the idea Campolo helped set me free.
Now am I excited about God like I haven't been since I
was a little boy. You see, I now have something to share with others! How
could I convince others to turn to a religion that I hated? But if Christianity
is fun, well, anybody can sell fun!
That also meant I did not need theological knowledge to
share the Gospel. All I need to know is the joy of Christ that sets one
free. I can't explain it, I can't understand it, but I can share it!
I have always felt joy when I interacted with God (those
"spiritual highs"), but I never had a mechanism to share them.
Now I realize that Christianity is that mechanism-it provides a uniform
set of ideas and beliefs that all Christians can relate to and communicate
through. And church is simply a part of that mechanism-it provides an outlet
for that unrepressable joy, a method for spiritual renewal, and contact
with others of like mind.
It's all so clear. And so simple. I always avoided the
complexity of religions, even Christianity. The church and its purpose always
confused me. But now I understand.
As for those hypocrites, they become irrelevant. At a party,
does it matter if a few don't want to be there? They should be encouraged
and welcomed with such warmth and enthusiasm they should be reluctant to
leave. And as Campolo correctly points out (and my own experience illustrates),
we are all hypocrites, whether we like it or not.
I think Campolo's book is exactly the message that young
people of today need. In a world where materialism (fun) is preached from
every angle the Christian viewpoint is desperately needed. And the price
of Christianity is no price at all-it is true freedom.
In George MacDonald's "The Wow O'Rivven" the
author writes, speaking of the village idiot, "He lived a life without
aim, and apparently to no purpose; in this resembling most of his more gifted
fellow-men, who, with all the tools and materials necessary for building
a noble mansion, are yet content with a clay hut."
Isn't that exactly what the world does with Christianity?
God has provided the way to true freedom, to true peace of mind, to true
Life; yet people perceive the price to high to pay. But the price is the
reward! They are the same!
Let's go forth and preach fun!
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