I just finished reading Pure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good? and it was a book that truly made me delight more in God and worship him.
The premise of the book is that we honor God when we take delight in the blessings he has given us. God is akin to an earthly father who enjoys seeing his children take pleasure in the gifts he has given. When we truly delight in God and “build lives of true, lasting pleasure” we “fortify ourselves against evil because evil has lost much of its allure.”
The author, Gary Thomas, challenges us that, if we are not reserving time each week for restorative pleasure, then we are likely running on deprivation and are susceptible to any number of spiritual ills. “One of the ways we can fight sin is to build restorative pleasure.”
“Here’s the great irony: Most people outside the church (and some inside it) think of holiness and pleasure as opposites. They see holiness as the main threat to their pleasure. What a lie! Holiness is pleasure’s truest friend.”
This book has impacted the way I want to parent my children. I want my children to see the connection between godliness and enjoying life. My relationship with Christ is the reason WHY my life is so full and joyful. I see all the blessings in my life as coming directly from his hand. It is easy to equate Christianity with duty and obligation, and think of the world as the source of “pleasure.” Is this why so many young Christian adults leave the church? The world has nothing to offer compared to Christ. What would happen if more Christian young people saw their parents living out the principles in this book?
Thomas also talks about being a servant of other people’s pleasure, and experiencing pleasure together as a family. I was convicted when I read about his regrets over not taking more time for family pleasures: “We can make frugality a god when we sacrifice family at its altar. In one sense, I had put principles over people. I doubt my choice pleased God.”
I also really appreciated this statement, concerning truly enjoying your “sinful” family: “Here’s the stark reality: If you can’t love, celebrate, and enjoy raising a sinful kid, then you can’t love, celebrate, and enjoy any child. If you can’t love and play with a sinful spouse, then you’ll never be able to take pleasure in any spouse, for the simple reason that you can’t find any sinless kids or spouses.” How often do we get caught up in discipline issues, or the fact that our spouse isn’t doing what we think he should, and this robs us of all joy in our family?
Thomas also balances out his message by encouraging a life of service and stating that we should live in pleasure and not for pleasure. I also appreciated his remarks that we should accept and embrace what our Heavenly Father gives us, even if it is a cross to bear.
The author also insightfully pointed out how we often look down on other people’s particular pleasures, while blindly and unwaveringly adhering to our own particular pleasures, and had some funny anecdotes to share.
Thomas rebutted the argument of people who say, “Shouldn’t Christ be enough? You don’t need ‘things’ if you have Jesus.” When Adam was in the garden, he was lonely. Instead of berating Adam for not finding a relationship with God to be sufficient for meeting all his needs, God gave him Eve. Obviously God is the highest source of our pleasure, but he also gives us good gifts to enjoy here on earth and we all have a need for pleasure in this life.
Throughout this book, I kept thinking, “Thank you God that you love me and you delight in me and that you give me good things to enjoy.” My faith was strengthened.