The Role of Pleasure

Over the past several weeks, I have been reading Gary Thomas' book "Pure Pleasure".  Gary Thomas, author of sacred marriage, sacred parenting, and sacred pathways, is one of my favorite authors in that he tends to capture to essence of spiritual formation within the context of everyday living.

In his most recent book, he talks about the way that Christian people often stigmatize pleasaure.  Somewhere, someone decided that God was all about sacrifice and pain.  This is so ingrained in western Christian spirituality, that we can not possibly connect Holiness and Pleasure.  We have learned to convince ourselves that everything pleasurable can be made painful in our guilt ridden conscious.

For instance, have you ever saved up enough money to take your family on vacation, just for another well meaning Christian to tell you that with the money you are spending on that vacation, 50 children in Haiti could eat for a year.  Or how about treating yourself to an aesthetically pleasing (but unnecessary) addition to your home, then having someone tell you that there are people who do not even have homes, who could be tremendously blessed by the money you spent on the decorative plants.  It could go on and on.

Although we are not to be controlled, dominated, or impaired by pleasure, the truth is that God delights when we experience pleasure (Psalm 36:7-9, for example).  Have you ever given your children something that they take true pleasure in?  Have you ever been driven to tears when you saw their joy?  We have a father in heaven who also delights when we experience what he has given us.

This does not mean that we are unaware of the needs of others and our responsibility to bless others. We, being in the mold of Jesus Christ, give our lives to bless others.  However, even Jesus went to parties, drank wine, and had simple social occasions.  There is a balance.  We must rest and work, play and labor, but it is the will of God that we find pleasure in both.  We literally worship God by appreciating the things of pleasure that abound!  For me, that's watching my family life, feeling a breeze while driving, watching birds, eating ribs, etc.

I developed this saying after being inspired by this author:

Discipline without desire is drudgery and desire divorced from God is decadence.  Drudgery and decadence destroy the soul, while God directed desire is life giving.

Are you comfortable with your pleasure life?  What is appropriate for you and what is over-indulgence?  Let me know where you draw the line.

May God bless,

Pastor M Traylor

Gary Thomas' "Pure Pleasure on Amazon