Pleasures Now and Forever?
Written By: Chris Mace
We were created as sensual beings with the capability and expectation that we should know the pleasures of our world. Experiencing pleasure comes in varied ways and forms: tastes, colors, styles, textures, books, art, recreation, music, ideas, and relationships. We have preferences but also enjoy others’ achievements and successes. We admire accomplishments, fulfilled aspirations, achieved goals, realized dreams no matter how small or grand. It might be a freshly baked cake, a newly mowed and manicured lawn, an artistic accomplishment, a negotiated deal, an ingenious idea, or just catching a lobster! We celebrate each other’s “pulled up by the boot strap” stories, victories over adversity and addictions, recoveries and wholeness after abuse, and resilience after suffering. Our pleasure may be felt with a simple self congratulation or by a widespread, shared, exuberant joy. Properly experienced and expressed it becomes a manifestation of godliness.
Contrary to the belief of those who envision God as stern, distant, and judgmental, pleasure emanates from God. Scripture reveals that God appreciates His creation, loves its creatures, and responds to them in intellectual and emotional ways. He expressed His pleasure at the end of each original creative act and exclaimed His approval as he crowned His glorious work with humanity. “It is very good,” He said (Genesis 1:31).
God’s wonderfully creative, good pleasure became our blessings then. And God’s plans become our blessings now…a future filled with peace and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
What pleases God? Redeeming us! Although man separated himself from God by marring the glory and messing up the environment given him, God has gone to the utmost extremes to redeem and restore His groaning creation and it’s suffering people. He has extended amazing grace and extreme mercy by touching humanity in Jesus, who came to “seek and save the lost.” Scripture tells us there is rejoicing in heaven when the scarred, wandering, and weary turn to Him and that ultimately all wrong will be made right.
What pleases God? Faith does! Scripture is clear that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:1,6).That makes sense. How can one be pleased with or relate to somebody who neither believes that you exist or that you are trustworthy if you do? Although faith involves a set of beliefs and confident convictions surrounding God’s character, knowing that God loves us graciously, mercifully, and without bias is the basis for trust. Jesus showed us that we can not be loved more.
What pleases God? To make us His children! “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1) He sought us! He chose, purchased, atoned for, forgives, and restores us when we believe. We pray to Our Father who is in heaven. He is our powerful, present protector who shepherds our souls with good plans even through life’s fiery trials and raging storms. He nurtures us to spiritual health. He empowers us to resist evil and to move mountains with all heaven’s resources.
What pleases God? To bless us! To be with us. To give us the desires of our hearts! Scripture is rich with statements, exhortations, phrases, images and stories that address our inner desires which God grants us as we continue to ask, seek and knock on heaven’s door for the good gifts. Only good and all that is good is promised us from Him. Jesus talked about happiness. He called it being “blessed,” but did he get it right? Blessed by poverty not wealth? By mourning not joy? By mercy not revenge? By persecution not safety? These blessings come in our posture of dependence upon God, who in spite of our circumstances fills our spirits with love, joy , peace, grace, patience, self control, and generosity as he walks with us.
He desires to fill our lives with joy. The Psalmist not only opened his heart to this truth that God is the source of life’s pleasures but to the even grander, more magnificent possibilities with God: “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11 (NLT2)
Jesus has shown us the way of and to life. He lived and taught and died so that our “joy might be full (John 15:11, 17:13). He promises that trusting him brings the joy of God’s presence and the expectation of life with Him forever. (John 14:6)