I’m very excited to have Jeremy Jernigan write a guest post for us. I asked Jeremy if he’d be willing to share with us after listening to his message, Redeeming Pleasure, at Woodland Hills Church a few weeks ago.
The relationship between pleasure and God is something that many of us don’t typically think about unless it’s brought up. Consider it brought up!
Grab a cup of coffee or tea and fill your day with this guy! You won’t be sorry.
Last summer my family moved into a new home. The home wasn’t a new build, so the first days and weeks living in it were spent finding out the weird quirks about the place. The door that stick, the stairs that have a slight creek when you step, and other discoveries you find out about a place when you live in it. One of these observations in particular stood out to me. In our master bathroom, the tile floor in front of my sink was warm. I noticed this late one night when I brushed my teeth while barefoot. Arizona isn’t exactly known for our harsh winter climate, but the sensation of warmth on my feet was fantastic. Here’s the only issue with it: we don’t have heated floors.
I found myself in a situation where I enjoyed a pleasure, but I also knew I probably shouldn’t be enjoying it. Ever had that feeling? I knew I needed to have my floors checked, but if I’m honest I wasn’t in a hurry to get it done.
For many of us this is the norm. We assume pleasure is great but we also assume it brings with it things like consequences and shame. That’s why the term “guilty pleasure” sounds so normal. This association can be traced all the way back to the opening pages of the Bible. In the book of Genesis, we see a creation story about mankind learning to interact with a supernatural God. God creates Adam and Eve and gives them the Garden of Eden to enjoy. This was pleasure to the max. But He simply asks them not to eat of one tree. As you likely already know, they decided to eat it anyway. Chapter three tells us that once they tasted the fruit, “the eyes of both of them were opened.” That’s pleasure. But then notice the very next phrase: “and they realized they were naked.” That’s a consequence. Something was wrong. They were incomplete. There was a new problem that needed to be solved. We then read about them hiding from God as a result. And that’s a picture of shame.
From the opening pages of Scripture we see people pursuing pleasure on their terms, reaping the consequences, and living in shame as a result. Most of us assume this cycle is the normal process of pursuing pleasure.
But what was that tree anyway? We might assume it’s a tree of evil, or a tree of pleasure, or maybe just a stupid placebo tree God put there as a test. The answer is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Wait, isn’t that a good thing to have? Isn’t that what all great religions teach us? Isn’t that what fills the self-help section of your local bookstore?
The problem with this fruit is it offered Adam and Eve morality independent of a relationship with God. God didn’t want them to make those decisions apart from Him. That’s because when we pursue pleasure on our terms we actually experience less of it. That’s the cycle of pleasure to consequences to shame. But the converse is also true.
Whenever we pursue pleasure on God’s terms we experience more of it. Click To TweetWhenever we pursue pleasure on God’s terms we experience more of it.
And yet how often do we choose the allure of the momentary pleasure over trusting God with the bigger picture? Let me revisit my house story. Weeks later I found out why the tile on my floor was warm. It was the result of a hot water leak under the foundation of my home. This provided me with what I affectionately refer to as our “forced remodel.” We had to pull both sinks out, cut out the wall, and drill through the concrete foundation of our house. All that to find a tiny hole in one of the hot water pipes. I’m not a brilliant person, but here’s the profound truth I learned from this story: the pleasure of the heat on my floor is not worth the leak in my house. It’s a bad trade.
Anytime we choose pleasure on our terms it will always be a bad trade. Click To TweetAnytime we choose pleasure on our terms it will always be a bad trade. We get less of what we want precisely when we think we are getting more. It’s the great deception of our culture.
Instead, Jesus invites us to trust Him and follow Him. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us. Even when it looks strange to the culture around us. It’s not a health and wealth prosperity gospel. This is the Gospel of the upside down Kingdom of God that demands a radical trust in Jesus in order to live out. But it’s worth it.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus (John 10:10)
You can read more in Jeremy’s new book called Redeeming Pleasure. www.RedeemingPleasure.com
Jeremy serves as the Executive Pastor of Creative Arts and Student Ministry at Central Christian Church in Arizona. He’s a second-generation preacher with a passion for discovering and communicating truth. Jeremy graduated from Hope International University and is currently working on his Masters of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. He has been married to Michelle for more than a decade and they have four kids named Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, and Aiden.
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