Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Defense of the Command to Pursue Highest Joy in God

Rejoice in the LORD always; I will say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

(I don't know--the jury is still out on whether we should use the term "Christian Hedonism" or not. I suppose it would be all right as long as we kept saying "in God." after every use. We are indeed far too easily pleased, as C. S. Lewis noted in The Weight of Glory. But we are also far too easily misled:)

I want to move on to the doctrine of supreme joy in God. For far too long in my life, God was a joy-killing tyrant who stepped on people for being happy. I realize now that He is just the opposite--a loving heavenly Father who longs to shower blessings on his children. Many, however, fall victim to false notions about morality that actually have their root in the 18th century philosophy of Immanuel Kant (i. e., you spoil the virtue of your actions if you find pleasure in them).

Let no man suspect that I am arguing for a "power of positive thinking," "simply feel good" message. It's just that the way of wisdom is so narrow and intellectually vexing that sweet passes for bitter oftentimes.
We are accountable to God if we ultimately fail to worship and serve him. It's just that all true believers--to some measure--LOVE TO WORSHIP AND SERVE GOD.

Telling someone that they are going to ruin their relationship with God by enjoying him "too much" is backwards. True enjoyment of God will lead us to radical acts of sacrifice more characteristic of the New Testament Christianity Paul knew.

So how do we know that our enjoyment is truly of God? I suggest the following tests as starters:

Does it lead to a settled peace in spite of current circumstances? (Phil 4:7)

Does it lead us to pray "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matt 6: 13), and to say "no" ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:12).

Does it overflow in service to others? (2 Cor. 8:2-5)

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters! (Isaiah 55:1). The world can offer nothing to compare to the joy found in our glorious God!

1 comment:

daddyo said...

Part of the rationale behind the use of the name "Joy Academy" for our home school lies in the conviction that the point and end of all knowledge is Christ, our joy.