November 7, 2014
Pleasure seems to have two faces.
Why is it that when we pursue pleasure for the sake of experiencing it, we always end up feeling empty and hollow? We were created to live in freedom and liberty. God showered the universe with uncountable sources of human pleasure. Because of His love for us, He wants our lives to be rich, full and enjoyable. For example: did He need to make food so tasty? Could He not have simply arranged for us to take power pills? He created endless nuances of flavor seemingly for no other reason than making eating pleasurable – something far richer and more connected to spirit than simply pulling up and refueling.
We are free to enjoy His pleasures. Sometimes we experience false guilt if we feel like we enjoy life too much. Other times we can plunge into wanton hedonism and selfishness, making the pursuit of pleasure supreme. We are free to worship these pleasures. However, such misdirected worship will always result in our yearnings being unsatisfied.
Where is the dividing line?
It is this: who or what do I worship? Where is my heart oriented?
God did not intend that we hold back from enjoying His gifts due to some distorted sense of spiritual pride or piety. Neither did He intend that we pursue pleasure as an ultimate life end. He did not intend for pleasures to become our god. Addiction is not healthy.
“God has given us richly all things to enjoy.”
One of the most delightful human experiences to me is fresh, abundant, clear, hot water. I thank God almost every morning for that. This is particularly true in the nine and even 10 months a year in Alaska when the days do not ever really warm up.
How does enjoyment of God’s rich gifts get distorted today? For those who have a wrong sense of piety and holiness, it gets distorted if we think there’s too much joy and fun in our life. On the other end of the spectrum it gets distorted when we pursue it for the sake of self-gratification. It gets distorted when we put our pleasure above serving. It gets distorted when we misuse God’s gifts for selfish and sinful results.
One of the best ways to enjoy the pleasures God has given to their fullest measure, is to retain a spirit of thankfulness and humility. When we recognize that every good gift comes from God, that tempers and purifies our enjoyment of pleasure.
When we stubbornly, coarsely insist that pleasure is our right, and we pursue it regardless of any consequence, trouble is ahead. When we distort the purpose of God’s pleasurable gifts for selfishness and admiration, we diminish, and even destroy, the gift that He has given.