by Greg Gwin
Free pizza, clowns, hot air balloon rides ... you name it, and some religious group has tried it as a scheme to draw folks to their services. These things are fun! Who wouldn't like to play ball, eat good food, and be entertained?
But, here's the problem -- these things all appeal to the carnal man, and seek to satisfy his earthly desires. Instead of these, the Lord has made the church the "pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15), and has designed its work and authorized its activities "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body" (Ephesians 4:12). The church, if it is following God's plan, is working to build stronger spiritual men, not better softball players.
When we challenge the 'fun, food, and games' crowd to justify their practices from the Scriptures, they usually refer to Jesus feeding the multitudes with loaves and fishes. They conclude that these examples demonstrate how Jesus fed the physical man to make an opportunity to feed the spiritual man (John 6:5-14). Sorry, that won't work! Keep reading. When the people came to Jesus the next day, He perceived that they came for more free food. He rebuked them and told them they ought to be seeking spiritual things rather than carnal ones (John 6:22-27). He did not feed them! As a result, many stopped following Him (John 6:66), but no food was offered to draw them back again.
Carnal appeals do not lead to true conversion and they are not authorized. The gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). Let's use it!