As I tweeted a while back, I've started reading Gary Thomas' book, "Pure Pleasure." It's a thought-provoking book. I think I'm one of the people he hoped would read the book. I'm certain I have not had a biblically-based view of pleasure--or at least have not recognized pleasure in the way God would like.
Contrary to the way my faith was formed regarding pleasure in life, Thomas explains, "Let us learn to fill our souls with beauty, art, noble achievement, fine meals, rich relationships, and soul-cleansing laughter. When we acknowledge these pleasures, we acknowledge God as a genius creator of brilliant inventions. Let us be wary of a faith that denies these blessings as "worldly" and unfit, as though Satan rather than God had designed them."
I have to admit that for much of my Christian life, when I find myself really enjoying, ok--perhaps relishing, simple things like driving with the top down on my Jeep, or spending the day bumming around with my wife, or reading a great Civil War novel, or even sitting on the back porch with a glass of wine listening to the birds sing, I have felt this twinge of guilt...like maybe I'm not supposed to derive so much pleasure from things that aren't directly associated with God. That the deep pleasures in life should come only from serving, praying, sacrificing...you know what I mean-- doing the sacred stuff. Having too much fun in the world means you're getting too close to THE WORLD.
This book is helping me rethink what it means to enjoy life. God created all things for our pleasure (1 Tim. 6:17). When I am enjoying all the things God has allowed in my life for me to experience, then God himself derives pleasure from watching me experience pleasure.
Thomas writes, "Enjoying God and what he has created (in the way he intends for us to enjoy it) brings pleasure to God. It is the pathway to worship and increases our spiritual vigor." Psalm 104 says, "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate--bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart..."
The real impact so far is that over the past few weeks, I've felt close to God and connected to God even when I'm doing stuff that isn't even remotely sacred. Whenever I'm doing something that brings me joy, I'm recognizing it as a gift from God and cause for worship.