Within some Christian circles there is often talk about sacrificing the “good” in order to have the “best.” Some would say we give up “legitimate, natural pleasures” in order to enjoy deeper, spiritual joys.
I wonder if we can actually have both.
What if it’s not God’s will for us to downplay the significance of good, permissible ways to have fun in order to focus more explicitly on honored, spiritual experiences? And what if He actually wants to blur the lines between what is a “natural” pleasure and what is a “spiritual” pleasure?
There are so many types of pleasure we are blessed with in life. There is certain euphoria we get only in corporate worship settings, and a certain peace that tends to be found more in solitude. There is an adrenaline rush we get while playing sports, and a release of endorphins when we work out. There a taste we get from delicious food, and a joy we get when our friends tells us jokes that make us laugh from the belly. There’s an appreciation for beauty that can fill our souls when we are scrolling through Instagram, and a satisfaction that comes from a good day’s hard work. And there always so many rewards that come from relational investments — when we are overcome with gratitude for the friendships that we are developing.
There are countless ways to experience heavenly bliss. Some of these might be easier to categorize as “spiritual” opportunities, while others are easy to view as “unnecessary.” But what if life is meant to be interlaced with both, continually? What if we aren’t meant to devalue or rate such experiences, but to savor them all? Maybe they are all a part of God’s benevolent plans for our lives.
I understand that there are times for prioritizing the kind of activities we will give our time to, and that sometimes we have to say “no” to good options in order to say “yes” to things the Lord has invited us to focus on. That said, we need to be careful not to create too much of a dichotomy between the material, temporal realm and the spiritual, eternal one. God is highly invested in both realms, and the two are highly intertwined with one another. I believe our lives are more fully lived when we are growing to explore and delight in the whole of the opportunities provided for us to experience joy in its manifold forms.
If we neglect any means through which God is working to lift our spirits in the name of “holiness,” we just might be getting stuck in an unnecessary rut. The Lord is highly creative, and He can make our hearts rejoice in so many ways…
That is, if we are willing to receive and celebrate all He is offering.