Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pleasure is the Measure of Our Treasure

Time magazines reports that a growing number of young men are getting the word out that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because of consuming explicit content of porn in ways and means never possible before and on devices that deliver it fast and privately.  As teens and pre-teens, this steady diet effected their young, impressionable brains and they are now reaping negative effects on sexual function, and as one porn user confessed, "I just want to enjoy sex again and feel the desire for another person."
Many are now sounding the alarm, speaking publicly, and creating online sites and apps to educate others and to help men quit porn. Time Magazine, April 11, 2016.

This is good news! We who believe that the God who created us and who gives clear instruction on how to enjoy all of life, including our sexuality, are encouraged to hear how even secular people are admitting the negative consequences of degrading this sacred gift and are trying to reverse the pandemic flood of pornography.

Our pastor is sharing a sermon series on enjoying God more.  Even greater than God's desire to have our service he wants our friendship and mutual enjoyment. Is God our pleasure?  Using a passage out of Jeremiah 2, where God expresses displeasure with his people for seeking after other gods, Jeremy's challenge was to stop finding pleasure in polluted water when God is offering living water that satisfies completely. Stop eating junk food, when we can eat the best of the best.

“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
    the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
    that can hold no water at all!  Jer. 2:13

Pleasure is the measure of our treasure! Often Jesus is presented as the means to the treasure--salvation, heaven, forgiveness.  But Jesus is the treasure! The reward of relationship! Enjoying God empowers us to enjoy everything else.  

Service too, comes out of this pleasure.  Jeremy illustrated this with a story about his children.  When asked to clean their room, there were as many responses as their individual personalities could come up with. And not a very satisfactory end result.  When he announced a fun event to take them to, only when the room was cleaned, the deed was finished quickly and thoroughly.  When motivated by pleasure, the work was easy and complete.

Can we ever become addicted to loving God?  I've heard it said that the more you get to know him, the more you want to know him. 

The definition for addiction from dictionary.com says:
-the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

What do you think? Is loving God like an addiction? To know him is to want to know him more. But I don't think we're enslaved to the habit of loving him.  Isn't it rather that as we get to know God better, we desire to deepen our friendship, not as a consumer of his love, but as partaker in a mutual affectionate relationship?  I believe that no matter at what level we enjoy God, loving him is still a constant choice on our part. He never enslaves us or holds us as captive. He remains the lover who holds us but who would never force us to stay. Unlike the nature of addiction, we hunger and thirst for him and get filled.  We drink of his living water and are satisfied. We choose him because we've tasted and discovered that his love is always good. Being filled brings rest and contentment.  He makes his home with those who love and obey him. Home is comfortable. As I discussed this with a friend recently, we agreed we both want more intimacy with Jesus and just as in a marriage, there will be times of talking and times of quiet just being together. We don't measure our pleasure with our spouses by how much activity together or touching we sustain, but rather in the delight of just knowing we're united and we belong together, even when apart. This is love that has moved beyond romantic euphoria; love that has been seasoned through testing and continued trust.
Home is also where our hearts yearn to be when we're away. The Psalmist describes his longing for God's dwelling as yearning and even fainting for it. He likens his desire for God as a deer panting after water. So, yes, to know God is to crave more of him.  But it's still our choice.  Just as lovers can drift apart through neglect or allowing another attraction to turn their eye away from their beloved, so we can, and are prone, to leave the God we love. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is the call of God to his people to choose him.  They are ready to enter in to the promised land and God knows that the attractions of other gods and the abundance of physical provisions will  test their relationship with him. They do eventually end up choosing to go their own way apart from him and they ultimately experience destruction. Without guarding our hearts against what can rob us of the pleasure in our Treasure, we will walk away from him also.

One of the advocates against pornography from the article mentioned earlier says, “I would tell my son, I’ll be straight up with  you, all superstimulating things, like Internet porn, junk food and drugs, can be fun and pleasurable, temporarily. However, they also have the potential to desensitize you to normal, natural things and ultimately rob you of the one thing you thought they would give you, the ability to experience pleasure."

May we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.  May our pleasure be in him, as we choose to remain in him,  even when we don't feel his presence, even when the cares of this life distract us and even when it means saying no to other good things so we can gaze on his beauty and be amazed at his goodness.  His pleasure in us never wanes or diminishes. What love could be better than that?

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. Jude 24 & 25.

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