One of the C.S. Lewis’ most famous points came on the heels of his talking about our pleasures. Which is something that Lewis knew something about. J.R.R. Tolkien once made fun of Lewis for what he chose to give up for Lent. He drank 3 ale’s a day at the local tavern. For Lent, C.S. Lewis decided to just drink two.*
So he’s quite the spiritual giant.
Now, Lewis’ obviously knew heartbreak and pain as well. But he also had a deep appreciation for pleasure, and it’s purposes in the world. Because there is a reason in God’s good world that things are created to bring pleasure, and we are created to enjoy certain things. But C.S. Lewis’ famous point about pleasure is that nothing truly satisfies. Every good thing leaves us hoping for more of it, or deeper experience of it. And this, Lewis says, is one of the great lessons of pleasure. That moment of unsatisfaction is actually a God-given gift pointing to something else. Something deeper.
When we approach pleasure as an end we often find ourselves battling addictions or depression or despair. Because no thing and no person can give what most of us are actually looking for. Jurgen Moltmann comes at this from another angle:
“Why have people in our modern world become so perverted? Because both consciously and unconsciously they are dominated by the fear of death. Their greed for life is really their fear of death: and the fear of death finds expression in an unbridled hunger for power. “You only live once” we are told “you might miss out on something” this hunger for pleasure for possessions for power the thirst for recognition through success and admiration-that is the perversion of modern men and women. That is their godlessness. “
The fear of death is really behind their greed for life.
But for Jesus followers, we believe that God created both us, and the very things that give us pleasure. We believe that God wired up the world in such a way as to frustrate us from time to time because as much as we’d like them to fully satisfy us, they cannot. They are sign post that point to another reality. Continue reading The City of Satisfaction
So I’ve heard (and given) quite a few sermons on generosity, specifically on giving to the community of faith that you belong to. I know that sometimes the perception of organized religion is one of a money-making business, and stories about Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple (or reading any of the prophets for that matter) help give me perspective any time I am going to talk about sharing our wealth with the local church.
But I am never going to stop talking about generosity in the context of community. I believe so much, not just in the local church, but that we are in line with the character of God the most when we are being generous.I think that’s true of our churches as well. Churches should be just as generous to the world as they hope their members are toward the church. Because I think one of the most formative thing a person, or community can do, is to give toward a common mission.
There have been times in my life when I see a Christian driving a Mercedes, or going to Hawaii, or eating at an expensive restaurant, and I’ve immediately thought poorly of them. Most of the time it’s because I cannot afford to do those things. But I would never say that. I would always say that I’m offended on behalf of the poor. There are millions of people dying because of lack of access to clean water, but go ahead, enjoy your $100 steak.
I have issues, I know.
In the book of Leviticus, God is adamant about this new group of slaves learning to party. So entire book is really a party planning manual. For every season there is a feast of celebration. But none of them are as big as the Passover. It is, after all, the time of year that they are celebrating the day that everything changed. When they said no to the Pharaoh. No more bricks for God’s people. God stood up to Egypt, and when God stands up there is no army in the world that can make him sit down. So every year, the Israelites would have a huge celebration. And if you were a Jew, and you didn’t go to the Passover party, you would be subject to the penalty of death.
Which can put a bit of a damper on the party spirit. Continue reading The Party Tithe