Do Christians Really Enjoy Creation? (Monday with Mounce 95)
I have had a couple interesting experiences lately, and they culminated in my thinking about 1 Tim 6:17, which says that God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Nothing special in the Greek. All things (παντα) are not just given but richly (πλουσιως) given for (εις) enjoyment (απολαυσις).
απολαυσις only occurs elsewhere in the NT in Heb 11:25, where the author says that Moses chose “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures (απολαυσιν) of sin.”
We were given some tickets to go see the Portland Trailblazers play basketball in a pre-season game. They were incredible seats for season ticket holders. The entire floor behind the stands was given to the enjoyment of food. From pizza to cordon bleu, and all free. My son Hayden and I had a riot. Watching the game, eating more than we should, and riding back to the car in the train.
As I watched the obvious relationships among the season ticket holders, and the people just relax from the work day and scream and yell in a place where that behavior is still culturally acceptable, it occurred to me that they really know how to enjoy life, at least this aspect of life.
I am not naïve. I know there is a lot behind the laughter, but the real problem was that I felt guilty. I felt guilty that I was reveling in the pure pleasure of competition, food, and my son’s company. Weird.
Then last month we went to Maui. It was my wife’s 50th birthday and I wanted something special. So we went to Hawaii, but what she didn’t know was that four of our best friends were waiting for her in the airport. She screamed for joy so much I was wondering if security has been called. And then much to my surprise (and joy), our other two good friends who were suppose to be back in South Africa at their DTS showed up at the door.
And did we enjoy. We enjoyed deep friendships forged over the years. Snorkeled in water that only afterwards we realized were shark infested. Boogie boarded on the north shore, down a bit from the world championship waves. Watched football divisional championships in an open air second story restaurant. And we ate. My goodness did we eat. Two hour breakfasts and four hour diners. We just enjoyed.
And I started feeling guilty. My friend Ed suggested that perhaps I had unintentionally picked up a Christian dualism in which the world was evil and only the spirit was good. That Christians can enjoy a sunset and the view of the ocean, but not steak and lobster.
I wonder. God put us on earth for many things. To image himself to creation. To care for his creation. And perhaps to enjoy his creation. Jeremiah says that God brought the Israelites “into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things” (2:7). He later says that “the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit” (31:5).
How about you? Do you enjoy the “all things” that God has “richly” given us for the purpose of enjoyment? Or have we allowed dualism to sneak into our thinking such that if it is not overtly spiritual it is somehow wrong. Something worth thinking about.
Now I am off to watch the WCC tournament, eat some potato chips, and enjoy all this with the wife of my youth” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
Thank you God for all that you have richly given to me for my enjoyment.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek, and is the general editor for Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. Learn more and visit Bill's blog (co-authored with scholar and his father Bob Mounce) at www.billmounce.com.
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