This week's 'thought' comes from a flyer I received in the mail a few hours ago. The flyer is announcing a conference soon to be hosted in our area dealing with the issue of 'Sexual Wholeness.' It was good enough (I thought) to be passed along as a thought for your consideration - or the possible consideration of someone you may know. What it states is true, and brought to mind another quote by C. S. Lewis. Both say a lot in a small amount of space. Enjoy.
"We live in a sex-saturated world. Sexual gratification has become the god of many as they seek to fill the empty void in their hearts. Even among Christians who know and love God, sexual idolatry is a major problem. The answer to this epidemic is not just sexual purity that abstains physically from sexual sin. The answer, rather, is finding satisfaction in Jesus Christ alone that allows people to live whole lives, so that, "sex and its little thrills become as small as they really are, and Christ becomes to us as great as He really is.'"*(*parenthetical quote by John Piper)
"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit this notion crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblemishing promises of reward promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not to strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
The choice before every person is NOT a life of drudgery and joyless duties and religious demands on the one hand (as a Christian), or a life of fun and pleasure by living in sin on the other. God is not opposed to pleasure or the enjoyment of life! Nearly all of the most joyful, memorable, delight-filled times in my life came after my conversion to Christ and not before that, when I lived a life of sin. They came through experiencing Him, and growing in Him, in intimate times of prayer spent with Him, and seeing Him in the beauty of His creation, and living out life as He sets it forth in His word, and enjoying the undeserved blessings which He lavished on me through my interaction with my spouse and children and friends and church family.
Lewis is right -- God offers us pleasures in Christ which eclipse and far outweigh any that can be found in a life of sin, rebellion and unbelief. He offers us "eternal pleasures at His right hand" (Psalm 16:11). He offers us "abundance of life" and "fullness of joy" (John 10:10/15:11). He gives us the kingdom, which, according to Paul, "is a matter of righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). God desires that we experience the joy and peace that comes from trusting in Him (Rom. 15:13).
God does not forbid pleasure; He merely forbids crass, sinful, cheap pleasure that leads to nothing but disillusionment, indifference, emotional turmoil and in the end, self-destruction. The choice presented to us is NOT the pleasures of sin for a season OR a life with God and no pleasures. It is instead the eternal, joy-nurturing, life-affirming, soul-transforming and incomparable pleasures of God and His grace (which we get to taste in this life and be immersed in throughout all eternity) OR the crass, empty, fleeting, small, regrettable, life-deadening pleasures of sin that are only enjoyable for a fleeting moment.
Why, as Lewis suggests, do we prefer making mud pies in the slums, with our eyes burning from the smog and putrid smell, when God offers us a seaside cottage on the cliffs overlooking the beach - with air so fresh we can taste it, as we listen to the gulls calling and the waves breaking in upon the shore?
With prayers that you may experience the joy and peace that comes from trusting in Him,