Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, once wrote: “How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose… You drove them from me… You, the Sovereign Joy!”
Many hundreds of years later, C.S. Lewis described the state of so many of our hearts well, in his book The Weight of Glory. “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.” Now he’s talking about pleasure here. So Lewis is saying that he thinks God thinks that our desire for joy is not too strong, but it’s 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.”
I love this quote. Because it’s us! We don’t yearn for Him, long for Him. Why? Because Bravo and TLC have some cool shows about cakes and dresses. Because the Super Bowl is on and even the commercials are great! Because it’s March Madness time and teenage boys are trying to get an orange ball through a hoop. Because if we can just meet this deadline at work then we’ll get to the next level and we’ll somehow obtain a greater identity. That’s why we don’t yearn. Because after a long day’s work, there is nothing you would rather do except sit on your behind and watch television. Don’t fool and delude yourself with the worn out excuse “I don’t have time.” You have all the time there is. You have just as much time as the rest of us. We don’t because we don’t want to. There are not other issues. We sin because we want to sin, and we don’t pursue Jesus because we don’t want to pursue Jesus. There are other things to us that are more valuable than Him, and that is why we don’t pursue. Because your real god is what you most effortlessly think about. You may go on to say “Well, I don’t know how to read my Bible.” You read it. One word at a time. And there are an unbelievable amount of resources put out there for us. Everything from how you read it on a day-to-day basis to how you study it in depth for free is on more than one website.
But here’s the thing… Some of you didn’t know how to fly fish, paint, grow a successful garden, etc… but you do now, don’t you? Do you know how you did that? Well you bought some equipment, you got a book and got all geeked up about it. Why? Because we love mud pies in the slums. You never see a grown man playing actively in the kiddie pool, do you? Not without his kids. Because if he’s without his kids, don’t we call the police? Why? Because grown men were meant for the deep end. They weren’t meant for the kiddie pool. So it’s a provoking thing to me that so many of us like to sit in that shallow warm water when the deep end is right over there.
Many of us don’t seem to fully grasp that we do not walk in fear of some tyrannical deity, but in love for our adopted Father. We are no longer slaves to our own insecurities, rather we have been set free from fear-based behavioral modification, and the vain pursuit of pleasures that never deliver what they promise. We are saved into the freedom of knowing that God’s affection for us does not waver despite our persistent failures and shortcomings, and into the love motivated pursuit of what we long for most. We’ve been set free from the pursuit of pleasures that have as an aftertaste guilt and shame, and into the grace motivated pursuit of pleasure that leads to ever-increasing joy. We have been set free to enjoy the love of our Father as adopted sons and daughters, because Jesus is the gospel. The Scriptures do not teach “come to Jesus and He will make your life better,” rather they teach “come to Jesus, He is better than life.”