< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Good to Great – Enjoying Great Moments Part 3

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good to Great – Enjoying Great Moments Part 3

In the next section Chip asks, “So why don’t we enjoy life?” If enjoying life is a gift, an expectation and an integral part of the way we are made, why are so many of us discouraged all the time and weighed down by seriousness? How have we been trained to miss out on all the good things and good times God wants us to enjoy?

He thinks the first reason might be a distorted view of God. That even when we know what the Bible says about God we tend to magnetize some of the right characteristics in the wrong proportions.

He says one way to restore our right vision of God is to remember the story of the prodigal son. We all know the story, how after the son is welcomed back with complete forgiveness and mercy and thrown a party; the older brother was furious. He had stayed and worked, honored his father all along and here’s the “bad” son getting a party! But the father tells him, “you are always with me and everything I have is yours.”

Now, I always thought this was like the verse in the Bible about there being more rejoicing in heaven over 1 lost sinner and kind of thinking “that’s not fair! I’ve been a Christian forever. Rejoice over me!” But, Chip says the older son could have thrown a party anytime he wanted! He could have asked his dad any time if he could invite friends over, kill the fatted calf and have a ball.

But apparently he didn’t because he was too busy trying to earn his father’s favor than realizing he already had it. He was so absorbed in his performance he could never enjoy life. We already have a relationship with God. We can stop and enjoy it! We spend all our time trying to prove ourselves to God, to our boss, our parents or someone in the past who said we’d never amount to much – instead of having a godly drive to move forward and bear fruit. He says that being driven to perform may get a lot accomplished but there is a subtle self-righteous arrogance in it. It comes from a warped distortion of God’s heart.

Also we don’t have to give up all of our hopes and dreams to be a Christian. Many of them are God given. And part of loving others is allowing them to love us. Giving them an opportunity to make sacrifices and serve.

Another reason we don’t enjoy great moments is we have a warped theology of pleasure. Pleasure has been polluted and distorted to the point where we almost think of it as the opposite of godliness. That’s one of the subtle ways Satan has corrupted the goodness of God’s creation. The Bible does teach that hedonism is a sin. Pursuing sensual desires like food, sex, materialism, fame, money and status in order to feed your ego or make you feel like someone important are sinful. That’s putting self above God and others.

But, we can have fun with most of those things with the right attitude. Having more of any of that won’t make you happy. It’s like a drug. You need more and more to satisfy you the next time. But, if we walk with God and are able to stop and enjoy what He’s provided we get refreshed and renewed. God wants us to stop and look at His beautiful world. To appreciate our family and friends and good food, etc.

Chip points out in this chapter how often the ancient Israelites celebrated. Their weddings lasted a week! The Hebrew calendar has a lot more holidays then ours does! Chip also wrote that the early Christians transformed their world. That love was their marketing plan and their business card was joy. They shared meals and fellowship and prayed great prayers and dreamed great dreams.

I was working on this lesson on the way to Chicago for Thanksgiving and thought maybe that’s why everyone loves Thanksgiving so much. It’s all about family, friends and food and reminding us of our blessings!

Enjoying life is allowed! But we think we can’t do something fun till our to-do list is done, or we work all the time to buy a lot of meaningless things, or we say yes to doing more things because we want people to like us. We’re perpetually stressed because the work never ends.

Chip says a performance based life eats away at health and sanity. It creates guilt when goals of perfection, approval and maximum production aren’t fully reached, which means it always produces guilt.

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