How To Find The Ultimate Pleasure

medium_beach feetIsn’t it interesting that the words “pleasure” and “God” are almost always viewed as polar opposites and that the two will never meet! This is something that I encounter time and time again whenever I mention to people about how Jesus is life personified and worthy enough to give up everything to follow after Him. For example, my friend, Torrey, and I were hashing about different thoughts and scenarios that his youth group may bring up. One of the things I brought up, while playing “devil’s advocate,” was why should I follow a Jesus I do not see, touch or taste. With sex, drinking and drugs, I get pleasure now; I get results in the present. That is what is real and tangible. Plus, following Jesus means that I have to give up my sources of pleasure.

What fascinates me is that everyone I know that seeks pleasure as their idol, have depressing lives and view everything as lacking significance. When explaining where the current complaint of the meaninglessness in life comes from, Bible teacher and theologian G.K. Chesterton said, “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.”[1] King Solomon, in his search to have ultimate pleasure, attests to this truth when he said,

“I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.’ And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?’…All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2, 10-11).

The problem is that we have a misconception as to what is true pleasure. Maybe we are not willing to put in the time and work to find ultimate pleasure. C.S. Lewis offers a similar thought: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too 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.”[2]

The question we need to ask ourselves is: where did the ability to have pleasure come from? In a different perspective: who was it that created us with the ability to have pleasure? This is not something that came on its own. It was God who created men and women with the ability to feel pleasure, happiness and satisfaction. In the Garden of Eden, God said that all of His creation, including man with all his faculties, is good; in fact, he said that the creation of the man and woman is very good.

Therefore, doesn’t it make sense, that to find the ultimate pleasure, happiness and satisfaction in life is to go to the actual Source? Everything else is a bad imitation of what is to be found in God. Only true satisfaction and joy is found by the Creator of those things! And here’s the advantage: it never ends and will develop into eternity. King David agrees with this thought when he said,

“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).

You either go for pleasure now, and lose it all; or give up yourself to find true life and contentment, in all its forms, through Jesus Christ. He said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).

The Westminster Catechism was right. The first question it asks of the catechist is, “What is the chief end of man?” The Catechism’s answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” Do you really want true joy and fulfillment in your life? Go to the source and creator of those desires: God Himself!

 

 

[1] http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/305041-meaninglessness-does-not-come-from-being-weary-of-pain-meaninglessness (accessed May 21, 2014)

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/702-it-would-seem-that-our-lord-finds-our-desires-not (accessed May 21, 2014)

Are You Listening?

 

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A close friend of mine told me about a certain person who had decided to walk away from the call of Christ to fulfill his carnal desires. This piece of news broke my heart and made me groan deeply in my soul. That person will soon realize that while his life may seem exciting at first, the end result will be pain, hurt and rejection. If anyone should know this, it is I. I went down that path before and thus, can relate to that person’s choice. But I also know the heart; it is indeed deceitfully wicked. It wants what it wants, when it wants it. I am still amazed sometimes how my own heart gravitates to sin and desires that will ultimately destroy me if I decide to follow its siren call.

I prayed that this person would soon come to truly give his all to Jesus and realize that the only satisfaction to the thirst in his soul is the Lord Himself.

What do I mean when I say that Jesus will satisfy the thirst of his soul? How does Jesus satisfy? I mean, you cannot touch Him, you cannot see Him nor even interact with Him as I can interact with the person next to my office. We know that Jesus is not dead; He resurrected from the grave and then ascended into heaven in plain view before numerous witnesses. So how does one have a relationship with Jesus of Nazareth? After all, He Himself, in His prayer to the Father said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

We have to use that word that drives atheists crazy: FAITH! Not a blind, “just believe because I say so” type of faith; but a faith that trusts in Someone who is real and whose character is trustworthy. We know Jesus was a real, historical figure who lived about 2000 years ago; we know that the gospel records are historically reliable accounts from eyewitnesses; we know that Jesus did indeed resurrect from the dead and then ascended to heaven many days later; we also know that His promises are true and He will therefore come again (should these be separate sentences instead of semi-colons?). Therefore, we can have faith that what He says is true!

If Jesus said that He would be with us until the end of the age, then He is with us through the Holy Spirit right now. If Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29), then He meant what He said. So therefore, we need to take the opportunity to make ourselves open and available to the Lord and to trust Him to fulfill what He has promised.

So the next question is: how? How can we have this relationship with Jesus? What does it look like? Ah, now that is the rub, isn’t it? Imagine us saying this to unbelievers: well, Christianity is not religion; it is a relationship with Jesus. They look at us as if we had lost our minds! How can you have a relationship with someone you cannot see or hear? But the glorious truth is that we can! Not necessarily the way we want or think, but He does communicate. The question really is: are we listening?

Think about this: when God spoke to Israel at Mount Sinai what happened? The people freaked out! It was too much for them to handle. Not surprising when you consider it. The Bible talks about his voice melting rocks and making mountains skip like sheep! God revealed Himself to Elijah in a quiet still voice after earthquakes, fire and whirlwinds. So are you paying attention?

After a particular hard day, I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep. My heart was troubled and fearful of what lay ahead of me for the future. I rose out of bed and quietly walked over to the living room where I prayed to God in the darkness. I was desperate! My prayer was not profound but simple: Jesus, I need You to talk to me; I need to hear from You and I need Your direction in my life. After about an hour (around midnight) I went back to sleep.

The next morning, I dropped off my wife to the ferry, which is close by our apartment. When I drove back home, I was listening to a Christian program where the speaker was talking about the next day’s lesson, which was to be on Psalm 46. I didn’t remember this Psalm so when I arrived home I decided to read it.

The first few verses almost made me cry, for I sensed in my heart it was the Lord answering my plea from last night. Psalm 46: 1-4 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.” God was communicating with me, in a way I did not expect. Later on, God further communicated with me by confirming what I had read through a friend of mine who called shortly afterwards to see how I was doing and helped me to see where God was leading me.

Jesus was faithful. He spoke. I listened.