Spurgeon on the Movie Theater

spurgeon11Ok, so there were no movie theaters in Charles Spurgeon's day, but there were regular theaters with actors and plays.  I'm currently reading through Tom Nettles new work on Charles Spurgeon called Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Spurgeon. It is a mammoth of a book, but I've enjoyed learning and studying the life of Spurgeon.  I came across this section where Nettles is describing Spurgeon's view of London and the sinful habits of the people. Nettles writes:

If Spurgeon could have added another curse, he probably would have selected the theatre. The moral tone of the theatre was too bad for mending and the character of drama is such that the tendency always is toward quick corruption. While some advocated Christian attendance in order to raise the moral level, Spurgeon thought that was like advocating pouring a bottle of lavender water into the great sewer to improve its aroma...Spurgeon claimed that he had never entered a theatre during the performance of a play, but when coming home from a distant engagement he had passed by and seen enough to 'pray that our sons and daughters never go within the doors.' Should that practice even become a habit among church members, Spurgeon believed it would prove the death of piety. 'Who can suppose,' he asked, 'amusement surrounded with the seductions of vice to be fit recreation for a pure mind? Who can draw near to God after sitting to admire the performances of a wanton woman, and I am told that some who have dazzled London society are such."

If Charles Spurgeon was concerned about the theatre of his day, I'm sure he would be astonished at the sort of TV shows and films that constantly play on our screens.  I'm not sure I agree with Spurgeon on the inability to redeem the artistic medium of theatre or film. I do not think Christians should abandon the arts but seek to transform them with the Gospel.  Yet, his point about the rubbish we intake as believers on our screens could very well 'prove the death of piety.' Maybe the reason we have such a hard time living for the Lord is that we have been filling our mind with these seductive vices? I'm not advocating we necessarily throw our TVs out the windows or never walk into a movie theatre again, but there is a greater need for discernment as we seek to grow in godliness.

Am I Called to Preach?

Being a pastor and preacher of God's Word is not something one chooses to do.  Deciding to be a pastor isn't like deciding to be a doctor or businessman.  The call to preach is given not by men or even our own wishes, but from God on high.  Yes, you might be able to learn the mechanics of preaching, but without the dynamic power given by the Holy Spirit, your preaching will fall flat.  Above all else, preaching is a calling.  If you are seriously praying about a call to preach, here are a few questions to ask.

Are you praying that God would reveal to you your calling?

Your calling first and foremost is going to come from spending time with God in deep prayer.  Study the Scriptures, ask God to reveal his calling.  Pursue diligently until the answer is clear.  In my own personal calling it began when I was in Middle School as a young Christian and I was not made certain until college.  Through many years of prayer and study, the Lord would finally affirm the calling to which I felt inclined to so many years ago.

Has your local church recognized your calling or gifting?

Does your church recognize that you have the gift of teaching and preaching?  When you lead a devotion or teach a Sunday School lesson at your church does the body of Christ affirm that you are indeed gifted in those areas.  Do they recognize a divine calling placed on your heart and life?  For me this was crucial for God affirming my calling.  As I began to teach and serve my local church, the congregation would tell me how God was using my teaching to challenge and convict them.  The Holy Spirit would move, and that by no means is a sign of my talent or gifts, but the anointing and call of God.  Does your church recognize your calling?

Are you content doing anything else?

My advice to you is this; if you could be happy doing anything else, do it.  The call to preach is not for the faint of heart, and chances are if God has not called you, you are not going to last very long in the ministry.  If you can be happy being a successful salesman or a IT guy for a company, or an engineer, then do those things.  This unexplainable calling is something that only the Lord gives. A preacher has the word of God in his heart like a consuming fire, so that he cannot help but herald the good news of Jesus Christ.

My prayer for you is that God would make his will clear.  The call to preach is a humbling one.  Even as I examine my own call, I constantly wonder why God would use a wicked and sinful guy like me.  However, throughout the Bible, God has a habit of using the unexpected to bring himself glory.  If he could call a wicked sinner like me to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, he very well might call you to do the same.

Here is what others have to say on the matter:

"Do not enter the ministry if you can help it," was the deeply sage advice of a divine to one who sought his judgment. If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way - Charles Spurgeon One of the problems caused by the fall of so many prominent ministers in recent years is that people became convinced that men were choosing the ministry the way people sometimes choose a profession - to make the most money.  Professions are careers that people choose; preaching is a calling to which we surrender.  We do not preach because we have nothing else to do; we preach because the call of God will not allow us to do anything else.

- Greg Heisler A man who has really within him the inspiration of the Holy Ghost calling him to preach, cannot help it - he must preach. As fire within his bones, so will that influence be, until it blazes forth.

- Charles Spurgeon

"Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" - The Apostle Paul