Sunday, 23 March 2014

Beneath the Sunrise

"If a person lives for many years, let them rejoice in them all"  Solomon.

It's proving to be a month of considering all the good gifts God has given to us - Food, Music, Laughter and Rest in our study group, but this has caused me to ponder related fields of pleasure and delight as well - art, beauty, sex, writing and the body. Joy, notes the scriptures, is most commonly found for us in such realms (Ecclesiastes 8:15), and we are actually commanded to enjoy what God has made for such a purpose (1 Timothy 4:1-5), because there will always be those who seek to negate and reject what is deemed good for the goal of spiritual deceit (Colossians 2: 20-23).

If an activity causes us to turn outward - to look beyond ourselves because it is shared or created to encourage our delight in each other - then it can have a value beyond merely satisfying ourselves or our own needs, and all of the gifts I've touched on above are given for this very purpose. Eating shows us we cannot exist in an autonomous fashion, and what is better than a good meal shared with friends? Music can turn us from deep introspection to look up to things beyond us, and communal singing and worship can be a most edifying experience. Recreation (walking, swimming, gardening, relaxing and so on) can be rejuvenating, and again, is often enriched when done with those close to us, or enjoying a moment making new acquaintances whilst engaged in these, and laughter often crowns the delight of our meals, work, rest and refreshment by 'speaking' of the joy found within them.

"If there lurks in modern minds", notes C S Lewis, "the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest this notion has crept in from the likes of Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of these promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak" (Mere Christianity).

It as we truly begin to value and enjoy the basic 'stuff' of life (food, work, music and rest), and how these allow us to share life together in a richer way, that the deeper splendors found in our being bodily creatures can become rightly employed and and enjoyed in our bodily communion with God and one another. It is this essential nature of life which will remain at the heart of creational existence forever, so it is imperative that we learn, in spite of those moments when we trip and fall (for which we have an advocate before the Father, the man, Christ Jesus) that this - bodily redemption - is indeed the life for which we were made (Romans 8:23), and that it is just such a reconciliation of all things that will truly please the Father forever (Revelation 21:5).

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