The future hope of the Christian is not of being in heaven in some disembodied state, floating around devoid of any stimulus or connection with how life was on earth.
That is more akin to Greek mythology and Gnostic heresy than it is to the Bible. No! Our hope is of the resurrection of the body and renewed earth and renewed heavens that somehow merge together so the effects of the fall upon the earth are removed and the beauty and glory of it is restored and magnified even beyond what it originally once was. God started with a garden, he ends the story in Revelation with a city. That in itself, although figurative, shows progress and development of the original into even greater magnification of perfection.
What is my point? It is this. Surely if we are to enjoy the earth in perfection, somehow transformed but still the earth and still recognisable as a transformation from what it once was, surely it is therefore appropriate to stop and enjoy what we see even now ‘through a glass darkly’.
| A day of rest?
What I mean is a sunny day, a bright sky, the lapping of water on a beach, a days fishing, pottering in the garden, a BBQ with friends, a fine piece of music. A warm evening sky viewed with a fine glass of red wine, viewing of birds and animals and landscapes, the sights and smells of God’s world.
All of these things are but shadows of perfection but are to be enjoyed and time must surely be taken for this enjoyment if life is to have a right pace. A day of rest principle, not only rest from seeking forgiveness of sins, but rest from physical work to enjoy pleasure provided by God. They should not become in themselves things we worship but they are cause for enjoyment and then thanksgiving to the one who made them and gave us opportunity to enjoy them. God has made all things for us to legitimately enjoy in their right place and season. Do we?
We can live as though we are never satisfied! Our flesh which awaits redemption will always seek to assert into our minds its desires and wants. This can often make us jealous for what others have and what we do not have. To learn the secret of contentment as Paul did is a valuable commodity. It must be godly to be able to enjoy and rejoice in the smallest of pleasures, without the pollution of a continual lust for more, bigger, greater, faster, grander. God help us! God help me! I despair sometimes of getting my flesh to line up with my new nature.
No wonder Paul said ‘I beat my body and make it my slave’. Not an advert for self harm, but a description of a man who was determined to see things as they are and not as his flesh saw them at times.
I am trying very hard to reassess rhythms of life and enjoy the journey.
Life is busy, ministry is demanding. We cannot always just sit back and enjoy our surroundings, but surely the building in of a lifestyle that enjoys the pleasures of life in the created world is something God intends. This is partly what should make Christians attractive to others who are searching for satisfaction. After all it is our hope of future pleasure and blessing in a renewed earth in the full unrestricted company of the one who made it that we are looking forward to.
Let us work hard for the glory of the Lord to ‘work the garden’ as Adam did, but let us also enjoy the things God has made for us to enjoy. I like the old Jewish proverb: ‘a man should deny himself no legitimate pleasure’.