Can enjoyment help spread the Kingdom? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
When I did my senior sermon in Bible College, I chose to talk about the theme of wonder. Why is it that we don’t seem to have wonder in anything? Christian philosopher once said the great tragedy for the ancients was that they worshiped the sun, moon, and stars. Our great tragedy is we’re not even tempted to.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not opposed to the scientific enterprise, but we’ve reached a point where if we think we can explain anything scientifically, it loses its fascination with us many times. Dan Barker relates an experience in Godless where he is riding with a relative who is trying to convince him of God and points to the beauty of the mountains. Barker responds by giving a scientific explanation of how mountains are formed. The relative takes this as a defeater. Why should it be? Cannot the mountains be the beautiful work of God that hold us in wonder and still be the result of a scientific process?
When I preached the above sermon, someone beforehand hearing about what I was speaking on had told me about a then recent cover of Moody magazine with the question “Is it right to enjoy my life?” Yes. Someone had to honestly ask that and someone had to honestly write an article saying it is no sin to enjoy your life.
Of course, this doesn’t equal traditional hedonism. Don’t go and do something just because it’s fun. At the same time, don’t think something is sinful just because it’s fun. Dare I say it, but one of the great slams you could give to the evil one would be to rightfully enjoy your life?
Why? Because we believe every good and perfect gift comes from God. That means that we ought to enjoy these things. 1 Tim. 6:17 even says this explicitly. God supplies us with all things richly for our enjoyment. This applies to the natural world that we see, but it also implies to the things that we create. We can enjoy a good movie, book, TV show, artwork, hobby, etc.
When we enjoy them, we are delighting in the gifts of God. There is so much around us every day and we are showing the proper gratitude for them. Boredom is not the idea of God. Boredom is more the idea of the evil one. It is the idea of saying that there is nothing here worth being excited about.
It’s odd because we think the devil is behind pleasure. He’s not. Pleasure is a tool for the enemy only if it will keep us from the greatest pleasure, knowing God. This is because we usually see God as a killjoy who is opposed to our fun. If there’s any area of life where this is shown clearest, it’s in sexuality.
Something about sex is that while it has many purposes, one such purpose is pleasure. Sex was meant to be enjoyable for a man and a woman. A woman even has a clitoris just for the purpose that she can enjoy sex. I remember hearing years ago the saying that the devil will do anything he can to make a couple have sex before they’re married, and after they’re married he’ll do anything he can to keep them from having sex. Loving sex in a committed marital union that binds the man and the woman together is something that builds up trust and intimacy and something the evil one would not want. One of the best gifts you could give the Kingdom of God if you’re married is a happy and thriving marriage.
Sadly, Christians have earned the reputation of being opposed to anything enjoyable. How many of us have heard this kind of testimony? “Well, I used to go out and party, get drunk, hang out with beautiful women and have a lot of sex, but now I am a Christian and I don’t do any of that stuff.” A lot of non-Christians in the audience would be saying “Sounds like you lost out.” They’re not right, but can we understand how when we phrase it that way, that they could have a point?
To this day, I can remember being in a Sunday School class with a friend of mine and hearing the teacher say with a finger pointing and in the most monotone way that I can imitate to this day “The Christian life should be the most exciting life of all.” He was right in what he said, but horribly wrong in how he said it. There was nothing exciting about it. The dry tone made us think that he couldn’t have been listening to himself.
I’m not at all advocating a materialistic hedonism or anything like that, but I am saying we Christians need to do some serious thinking about the role of pleasure in our lives. It is no sin to enjoy the world God created. It is no sin to delight in the things He has made. We could say if anything is sin, it is the opposite. It is sin to not appreciate and delight in what He has made.
So for me, I want to make it that part of my witness to the world is that I enjoy being a Christian and I delight in it. I love what I do, including being in the field of Christian apologetics, and I love that I’m married to the woman that I love. These give me enough reason to wake up and be thankful every day. My life has meaning because I am part of the grand story that God is creating and my life is not a punishment. It is a gift.
I think I’ll treat it like one.