The problem of pleasure...

Today's thought:

Ecclesiastes 2:1-2, "I said to myself, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. "Laughter," I said, "is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?"

"What does pleasure accomplish," the wise Solomon asks. Like all God created good, pleasure can be distorted to destroy. We live in a society who has lifted pleasure to a throne and bows down. Yet, to what avail? The hedonist that seeks after pleasure, does he or she find, in the end, what it means to be truly human—meaning, purpose, relationship? In fact, pleasure taken out of the context for which God has created, strips us of our humanity and leaves us with empty hands and empty hearts.

Ravi Zacharias, the apologist and philosopher, makes four conclusions to the problem of pleasure (watch his full message on YouTube: They are instructive and cautionary. 

First, he says, all pleasure is bought with a price. The difference between good pleasure and bad pleasure is indicated by when that price is paid. For good pleasure the price is paid before the pleasure. For bad, or debauched pleasure, the price is paid after. It may be hard to say "no." It may be hard not to indulge. When we choose what is right it can cause some pain. When we do what is right and we submit to God's authority we pay a price but later in the proper time and in proper context we receive a pure pleasure. When pleasure is bad, outside of God's will and ways, after the indulgence comes the price of guilt, shame and consequence.

Secondly, Solomon calls the pursuit of pleasure, "meaninglessness." G.K. Chesterton said, "Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure." Nobody is as fed up with life as those who have exhausted pleasure. The loneliest people in the world are those who have lived indulgent lives and have emotionally and physically driven themselves to impotence.

So, what we find is that the closer we get to pure pleasure the closer we get to the heart of God, while the closer we get to impure pleasure the farther we get from the heart of God. What your heart really longs for is not a pleasure that touches body only, but an intimacy that touches both body and soul. This is the picture of true Christian worship, a unity of mind, body, heart and soul in complete intimacy with God. Worship is the purest form of pleasure and therefore brings us closest to the heart of God.

God designed us to experience pleasure. Yet, it is not a thing to be pursued but experienced when we praise God living our lives to His glory. Studies have been done in a MRI machine (which takes pictures of the brain to determine brain activity), according to a talk given by Michael Ramsden, where one person was asked to think of sexual scenarios and another was asked to "praise" God. What was found is that the same part of the brain, a pleasure center, was activated in each instance. There seems to be a design God has created in us to recieve pleasure when we worship Him that can be misused by sin. God designed us to praise Him and in so doing we recieve a pure pleasure. So, they did exactly what Solomon did thousands of years ago, tested pleasure to see what is good. Amazing how science can teach us what the Bible thousands of years earlier already told us. You were made for worship and when we follow God's design we experience pleasure as God has designed it and find fulfillment, meaning and intimacy with God that does not destroy the heart but fills it.

Today experience the pure pleasure of pouring out praise to His name and enter into the intimacy you were created for.

Prayer: Father, You give us pleasure as we give ourselves to You. As we love You with all our hearts, minds, strength and soul You fill us with our hearts deepest longings. Our hearts deepest longing is You. Fill us today as we worship You and seek Your ways. In Jesus name, amen.