The Supreme Court may broaden the definition of marriage and the FCC might drop its ban on nudity. By contrast, the Bible seems to be full of limits. So how can it claim that “the truth shall set you free?”
I’ve heard this criticism of Christian faith in many forms:
“The God of the Bible is a Cosmic Killjoy, speaking ‘Thou shalt not’ over every human pleasure. He’s like a Grumpy Old Man looking down from on high saying: ‘Behold, they enjoyeth themselves…Never!’”
One U2 song puts it this way: “She’s a promise/in the year of election…Desire!” We’ve all learned the hard way how desire can make promises it can’t keep. Yet, when a doctrine of faith draws a line, we accuse God of spoiling the fun. Isn’t it true that some of our wants compete with our needs?
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures…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.” – C.S. Lewis
A powerful experiment shows how boundaries and limits actually promote greater freedom. Across the country social scientists began to study the habits of children at recess, giving them many toys and plenty of room. In each school, students tended to remain in close proximity to the buildings, ignoring the vast space beyond them. Then they built fences far beyond the average distance of play; and in every case, these same groups of students spread out into the grounds. The boundaries limited their potential to roam, but they brought freedom to thrive and play.
Or, consider a friend of mine is training for his second Iron Man. I’ve heard him say, “I run to eat.” He finds greater culinary freedom when he puts on constraints of a strict exercise regimen.
Ever been met with a limitation and found something far more robust and fulfilling? That kind of experience can make you read Psalm 37:4 in a different light.
Joani Jack says
Good stuff, Tim. I heard a speaker recently put it this way: We are too often like a hot-air balloon at a place like Pigeon Forge, that is tethered to the ground. Tourists climb in, the balloon goes up to the top of the reach of the cords, then are pulled back down and climb out. Then the next group gets in for the same routine. That is our ‘fun’; that is too often the Church. God longs to cut those cords loose, and let us fly.
But, the ‘cutting loose’, in my experience, is more painful than I would’ve ever expected. The cords being cut are my own enslavement to sin, to my own desires ‘that entice us and drag us away’ (James 1), to routine, to the things I can see and expect and feel comfortable with. I don’t give those up easily… even when I know that the reward will be great.
And then, the flying. I have no control over it! I am at the mercy of the wind, rather than under my own steering… and that is really uncomfortable.
Too often, then, I’m content to just keep going up and down like a tourist hot-air balloon… rather than being willing to trust Him, trust His mercy, trust His grace, trust His goodness, trust His sovereignty, trust His power… and FLY!!
Thanks for your timely words this morning. Praying for you. Joani
Kenneth Gray says
It seems that everything that is recreational is a sin. I’ve been told that even reading a book, other than the Bible, for enjoyment is a sin because the pleasure of anything other than God is sinful. God is all about God, nothing else is good according to God’s word. Basically put the only thing that God wants us to have fun with is God. So yes I do think that God is a cosmic killjoy. “Those that love life will lose it, those that hate life will have it eternally”. God wants us to hate the life he gave us. Hate means no fun. God believes that enjoyment in this life means you hate God. Quite simple is it not? God wants us to hate everything of this world. No room for fun.
Tim Filston says
Thanks for your comment, Kenneth. I hope you’ll be glad to know that what you have spelled out here is not defensible biblically. Scripture is clear and Jesus demonstrates in his own lifestyle that God’s good gifts are to be enjoyed. The issue with us is that we often tend to get our loves out of order. That’s Augustine’s definition of sin: disordered love. So if you’re savoring a medium roast coffee made w/ care by your favorite barista, enjoy it with gratitude. (Col. 3:17) Jesus points how even the fourth commandment about keeping the sabbath is aimed at our benefit: “The Sabbath” is made for man.” (Mk 2:27) Our very design affirms God’s desire to enjoy his good gifts. We’re made in the image and nature of God. Our senses are amazing–even a gratuitous gift–of taste, sight, sound, smell, and touch. The word you used “re-creation” really sums-up well God’s purpose in giving us rest and a world of wonders.