Sunday, 22 October 2017

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St. Paul, MN 55106
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  • at 11:00am on Sunday.

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Simple Pleasures

On Saturday something unusual happened.  I slept in until 8:30am.  This almost never happens.  As a matter of fact, I can’t remember the last time I slept so late.  Normally, I am an early bird.  I typically get up at 6am, even on the weekend, even on holidays.

Do you know something?  It felt good to sleep in.  I guess I didn’t realize how tired I was.  It probably also helped that I didn’t have a lot on my schedule for Saturday, and that I didn’t have a lot on my mind when I went to bed Friday night.

A good night’s sleep is one of the simple pleasures of life.  Wouldn’t you agree?

This past weekend I had the chance to enjoy some of my other simple pleasures. On Saturday I read the latest issue of Time magazine.  I took a walk around Phalen Lake.  I watched a basketball game on TV.  On Sunday I enjoyed some of my other favorite simple pleasures.  I went to church.  I took a nap in our recliner.  I watched the Twins win their first game of the season.  And I played basketball with my son and wife.

What simple pleasures do you enjoy?  A cup of coffee?  A warm bath or shower?  Reading the newspaper?  A visit from an old friend?  Watching your favorite TV show?

Each of us has our own list of the simple pleasures that we enjoy the most.

It is a shame that the church doesn’t talk more about pleasure.  After all, God created us for His enjoyment.  God created us to enjoy Him.

The opening question of the Westminster Catechism reminds us of this.  "What is the chief end of man?  Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever."

As Christians we understand the idea behind glorifying God; but what about the second half of the answer—enjoying God?  What does it mean to enjoy God? How do we enjoy God?

God created us for pleasure.  God put Adam in the Garden to enjoy His companionship and so that Adam could enjoy the beauty of God's creation.  God created Eve so that Adam and his wife might enjoy one each other's company.

Of course, now the simple pleasures of life can be tainted by sin.  The simple pleasures of life can also become sinful when we pursue them above else, including God.  So many people today worship the gifts of God, rather than the Giver of each and every perfect gift.

But even the misguided and sinful pursuit of pleasure is, in reality, a desperate search for God.  A provocative remark by G. K. Chesterton reminds me of this.  Chesterton once wrote that a man knocking on the door of a brothel is actually knocking for God.

Ever since the Fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, man’s search for pleasure has ended on a dead-end road.  Eve and Adam fell for the deceiver’s lie that they didn’t need God.  They could be their own gods.  They could decide what was good and evil for themselves.  They could pursue pleasure on their own terms.

As a result when Christians think about pleasure, we tend to think about verses like 2 Timothy 3:1-4.  Here the apostle Paul writes, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”.

Doesn’t this sound very much like the time we find ourselves in?  A day when our news is filled with stories about the likes of Charlie Sheen or Lady Gaga.

However, God’s people must fight another temptation.  What temptation is this?  It’s the temptation to be puritanical.  What is puritanism?  It is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy.   

As Christians we sometimes need to be reminded that it is OK to be happy. It is OK to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. 

The key to the right understanding of pleasure is found in having a right relationship with God.  And to restore our right relationship with God is precisely why the Father sent His one and only Son to pay for our sins.  We are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Because of Christ, we can now rejoice in the Lord.  And we can rejoice in His many good gifts to us, including the simple pleasures of life.

But there are other pleasures that await us.  David writes about these in Psalm 16:

You have made known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

And so, because of Christ, go ahead and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Do so knowing that even greater pleasures await you—all for His sake.  Amen.
 

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