gods of pleasure | Week 2

St. Augustine – “I was in misery. And misery is the state of every soul overcome by friendship with mortal things.”
St. Augustine – “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

INITIAL QUESTION

Give three things, places, people, etc. that gave you comfort as a child or even now, during hard times:

Possible responses: blanket, food, videogames, sleep, mom, friends, etc.

SUMMARY OF VIDEO

Paul Jones' father left him as a child. He and his mother lived together and they were each other's world. His mother would feed him without regard to his health. Food was where he found comfort growing up, and whenever he feels depressed he would eat.

His eating habits got worse after he got divorced from his wife. After many years of struggling with eating, he finally said "I give up" to God and he felt like God said "finally". He found that God was waiting for Paul to finally let go of his life and surrender all of himself to God.

Soon enough, God changed Paul's life by breaking the chains of food addiction. Paul no longer had as much pleasure coming from food. He became physically active, even to the point of running multiple marathons.

During this video, Kyle Idleman also talks about the high incidence of pornography and the popularity of fast food in American culture and how they have caused the destruction of multiple families and lives. These point to pleasure as being a problem (a counterfeit "god") in modern society that seeks to fill-in an empty desire that is left by not having God as our greatest pleasure.

The solution to these problems of pleasure, Kyle says, is not to simply put all our focus on removing the false god; rather we should seek to replace these gods with the One True God who alone can give full and satisfying pleasure and happiness.

DISCUSSION

  1. Paul Jones referred to his painful childhood experiences and their effect on his drive for comfort. How is this true for many people? Does anything about his story resonate with you?

    Possible response: Childhood experiences often influence the gods that we worship when we grow older. Ex: a person growing up in a family that is obsessed with wealth and status will result in a person growing up to put money as the center of their life; growing up with friends that value popularity, will result in one putting popularity as their "god"

  2. “If it feels good, do it. If you have an itch, scratch it. If you have an appetite, feed it. If you have a passion, fulfill it.” How might this mantra be a good / bad thing?

    Possible response: YOLO! This can be good if you can direct your efforts at good things, bad if you direct your efforts at bad things (sins, illegal activities, etc.)

  3. Is it wrong to find comfort in things like food, drink, sleep, and other pleasures?

    Possible response: Not necessarily, because God himself created pleasurable things and activities in the Garden of Eden, Jesus miracles, etc. Sin arises only when you place the pleasure above God.

READ PSALM 106:20 and PSALM 37:3-4

  1. "They exchanged the glory of God for an image of an ox which eats grass." Kyle calls that a bad trade. What do you think about it?

    Possible response: It is stupid to exchange the Creator of constellations, the Earth, water, etc. for an ox which eats grass. However, sin is exactly that! We constantly exchange God for a lesser thing whenever we sin.
  2. What would be the “desires of the heart” for the people of that time? How do we reconcile this with the fact that many dedicated Christians from the earliest disciples have suffered horribly in life and often met miserable deaths? (See Gal. 2:20, 2 Cor. 5:14-15)

    Possible response: The desires of one's heart includes peace, livelihood, not getting killed, etc. However, the earliest disciples willing gave up their peace, livelihood, and lives because their desires were changed when they accepted God. God changes the hearts of his followers so that their desires is no longer for their own selves but for the greater glory of God. If God calls a disciple to give his life, then they give it as a matter of desire and "willing obligation".

HYMN: "SHALL MEN PRETEND TO PLEASURE" BY JOHN NEWTON

Note: Final stanza is the most important.

Shall men pretend to pleasure
Who never knew the Lord?
Can all the worldling’s treasure
True peace of mind afford?
They shall obtain this jewel
In what their hearts desire,
When they by adding fuel
Can quench the flame of fire.

Till you can bid the ocean,
When furious tempests roar,
Forget its wonted motion,
And rage, and swell, no more:
In vain your expectation
To find content in sin;
Or freedom from vexation,
While passions reign within.

Come, turn your thoughts to Jesus,
If you would good possess;
‘Tis he alone that frees us
From guilt, and from distress:
While he, by faith, is present,
The sinner’s troubles cease;
His ways are truly pleasant,
And all his paths are peace.

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.