[Today is part 2 of a 3-part blog on pleasure and it’s place in our lives. To read part 1, click HERE] Last week we looked at the danger of living life in the pursuit of pleasure. That passion for fun, happiness and for a thrill can be quite the driving force, but it will always leave you empty. There isn’t enough in this life to experience, to have, or to laugh at that can sustain that kind of veracious appetite. God didn’t give us this life simply so we can experience pleasure.
However, that doesn’t mean God expects us to avoid the experience of pleasure.
It seems like there is often a piety associated with pain and discomfort. Indeed, God’s Word is clear that suffering is part of the road for those who wish to live a life that please God. Paul told his preaching protege Timothy, that, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). It’s a clear statement without any qualification. The fact is: If you pursue an Overboard Life, you will find hardship along the way.
But hardship and pleasure are not mutually exclusive ideas. It’s not like we’re talking extremes, and that it has to be one or the other. I’ve known too many Christians who love the Lord, and despise pleasure. They make Christianity look painful and joyless. While I know they personally experience joy in their lives (ok...on a couple of them I assume there has to be some hint of laughter in their hearts every once-in-a-while!), they make holiness a serious business without much joy. The assumption is, “If you’re having fun, you’re probably doing something wrong!”
Years ago I worked at a church with a great heritage and a solid Gospel ministry. They church was in a series of transitions at the leadership level and during that time, my wife and I were working with the young people. In our area, a Christian camp had just closed it’s doors and in the process an enormous home made foosball table had been donated to our church. Not only was this table larger than regular tables, it was heavy: like, 4-man-to-lift, heavy.
One afternoon I was talking to the church secretary when a gentleman from the church stormed into the office and asked, “Who ordered the game table in the youth room?!?!?!” The secretary very calmly let him know that the pastor had approved it. Then he did something I hadn’t seen before, in a church. He slammed his hand on the desk and yelled (I’m talking, red in the face kind of yelling), “I will not sit by and let this church be turned into a gaming facility!” With that he stormed out of the office and slammed the door shut behind him. He must have had the adrenaline flowing through his body because somehow, he moved the entire table out of the youth room, by himself!
This man’s perspective on fun was simple: the Worship of God is serious business (and he’s right, it is!), and if you’re having fun, you’re not worshipping Him (and here he’s wrong!). The idea that the Christian life should be joyless, or at least pleasureless, is contrary to so many clear passages of Scripture. In Part 3/3, we’ll examine the key passages about pleasure in the Scripture.
In the mean time, it’s important to avoid the two extremes: making every decision about pleasure, and rejecting all forms of pleasure. Both are extremes that fly contrary to God’s design for our lives. Jesus is walking on the water, and He is calling us out of the comfort of our boats and challenging us to experience the joy and pleasure of walking with Him. Without a doubt, living the Overboard Life will cause great challenges and bring on difficulties and potential heartaches. But walking with Jesus on the water will also bring greater pleasures and deeper joys than you could ever experience in the comfort of the boat.
So go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!