In a recent issue of Critique, Brian Metzger (“Cocoa Krispies Christianity”) gave us a wonderful picture of what the Christian life should be: a life of freedom, fullness, and grace. A life in which eating Cocoa Krispies in summer camp is OK because we enjoy it. Metzger points at something we have to regain: the joy and enjoyment of human life. Human life is not given by God so we can live with the least possible pleasure, but so that we can delight in what God gives (as well as in what he does not give), because he delights in life. We tend not to see human life as enjoyable, probably because it is tainted by sin and by the curse of the fall. True enough. But there might be an unhealthily sadistic view of how and what God expects our life to be. Can I really live the life God expects me to live if I enjoy this life? Can I enjoy living in this fallen world, while He asks me to strive for his kingdom in a world that rebels everyday? Well, yes he does. And this is a good reminder. The world remains, and will always be, God’s creation. There is hope of restoration (not merely “salvation”), and hope, and beauty. And pleasure in life.
Two things however. First, if it is true that God delights in his children, then certainly he enjoys us living the new life he has given us. God delights when we do things as simple as eating seven bowls of Cocoa Krispies during a summer camp, as beautiful as taking a hike in the mountains, or as intimate as enjoying sex with one’s wife. As easy as it sounds it is hardly so simple. God delights in our lives, but he does so when we live out of his life, when we live the beauteous gift of sanctification and adoption. We might complement what Metzger reminded us. If beauty and pleasure are parts of our life, that we should strive to regain, we also have to strive to make all that we are a part of God’s glorious delight in us. But we ought not to forget that all God created is still under the curse, even though we can find God’s delight in everything we do.
Nothing we do, say, or think, is automatically sanctified just because we do it. It is a struggle to achieve enjoyment of a renewed life. All we do can be under God’s renewing life, or it can be “counter-renewing.” Even enjoying sex with one’s wife can be counter-renewing. If you want your wife because her body gives you pleasure, the risk of “counter-renewal” is great. One might reply that God created sexuality (among other important things) for our pleasure. One could even say that God created your spouse’s body for you to enjoy (once again not only!). But there is more to it, and all know it. So, the approach to everything we do makes is what makes the unbridgeable difference between a renewing life and a counter-renewing one. At the end, it’s not so much about doing something for the sheer pleasure of doing it. That’s part of it no doubt, but it is also more. It’s about doing what God enjoys, and we need to rethink what God enjoys. Eat Cocoa Krispies the way God delights in you enjoying eating Cocoa Krispies. Take a hike in the mountains because God delights in you doing so. Enjoy having sex with your wife the way God delights in you doing so. Maintaining that we can do something for the sheer pleasure of doing it can lead us to entertain an idealistic view of how we see the world. We do not see the world as renewed and sanctified creatures. It is a work, a pleasure in progress. Doing things for the sheer pleasure of doing it, and for the sheer pleasure of God enjoying it is a pleasure that will be fulfilled only when we enter the glorious renewed heaven and earth.
The second question is whether or not we can do anything we want. Of course nobody would answer ‘yes’ without any qualifications. Our “anything” needs to be within the bounds of Christian virtues. But, given that, can we do anything we desire? Well, technically yes. But hold on a minute. There is something more to the matter. There is a form of naïve idealism if we position ourselves there. This would be correct if we were of an innocent nature, or of a glorified one. Everything we’d do would be glorious and beautiful and crowned with joy. Even eating seven bowls of Cocoa Krispies would be glorious, beautiful, and joyful! But… we are more complex creatures than that.
The “beautiful ruin” that we are still needs to remember this: we are regenerated but of an un-glorified nature. To put it differently: it’s not because something is supposedly OK that it actually becomes OK when we do it. Let’s say I want to eat seven bowls of Cocoa Krispies on a summer camp morning. There’s no problem with that. I just enjoy it and I have the freedom to do so. And God delights in me when I do so. Now, let’s say I want to eat seven bowls of Cocoa Krispies because that’s what I like the best. In this case I think there’s something unbalanced about my attitude. See, eating seven bowls of Cocoa Krispies can either glorify God or glorify something/someone else. It’s either a sanctifying experience or not. My second point is this then: eating Cocoa Krispies is a struggle against sin !
Doing whatever God pleases is the enjoyment of life. God rejoices in you eating wonderful food, good wine and cheese (French of course! And blue cheese if I have the choice), and enjoying a sexual relationship with your wife. But we can’t forget there are two ways of living, and there are two ways of eating Cocoa Krispies. Since at the end, there are two ways of eating Cocoa Krispies.