I firmly believe that God wants believers to live life to the full – and to enjoy it! You see, we have been set free from Religion – the compulsion to try to please God by following lots of rules and stuff – and instead to bask in the blessings He sends us.
What I am saying is this. If you love football, go and enjoy it. If you love swimming, go and enjoy it. If you love chess or card-making, go and enjoy it! Enjoy your hobbies and pastimes with a clear conscience, and all the while walking with your God. You see? There are so many religious people who think that if something is fun, then God can’t possibly approve. They are wrong, plain and simple! God made you the way you are, and He gave you the hobbies and interests that are part of what define who you are as a person.
To quote Don Francisco, ‘The Enemy wants us to believe that God is like he [the Enemy] is’. He wants us to believe that God is a giant Killjoy, up there in Heaven, who frowns most severely on anything that people find enjoyable. That’s not the God I know. The Bible says that God wants us to be ‘filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy….’ (1 Pet 1:8). The Enemy does not want us to be so filled; furthermore, he wants us to believe that: a) God does not want us to be; and b) that God is the One who is to blame for this.
On the contrary! Jesus said it’s actually the enemy who wants us to be miserable: ‘The thief [the devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). How? by reversing the devil’s work: ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work’ (1 Jn 3:8) One of the biggest scams in today’s society is that God gets blamed for what the Enemy does!
You see, belief in a Killjoy god will give rise to Killjoy Religion. There are people who like nothing better than to judge the actions of others and disapprove, usually in the name of the god they serve. They try to make people feel guilty about enjoying themselves…..these are the Killjoys – and Jesus knew them as, yes you’ve guessed it, the Pharisees!
Pharisees will try to suck the joy out of God doing great things. They even tried to put the dampers on Jesus’s ministry – if that were possible! – by instead of accepting the great things He was doing and offering, trying instead to trap Him and to get Him to condemn Himself by the things He said and did. How’s that for missing the point! At one place in the Scriptures, they even accused Him of being in league with the Devil…..talk about being killjoys! Here’s what happens with so many new believers: “Ok, you have come to faith in Christ, and that’s all well and good, but now here’s this set of rules we expect you to live by.” And that’s not the way it should be at all!
In Luke 11:46, Jesus said to these people who impose their rules on others, “What sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden!”. In Matthew 23:15, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are”.
However, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is a classic piece about no longer being subject to religious rules. Gal 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”. Be free!
In order to try to justify being Killjoys – and wanting to ‘ban’ certain pastimes – many Pharisees will quote the verse, ‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ (Rom 14:23) – but actually this Scripture means, if you read it in its context, that if your faith is not strong enough to believe that what you are enjoying is ok ‘with God’, then that’s when it becomes a problem. If you have a weak faith, and do not realise how much God wants to bless you, then your freedom of action, and freedom of choice, will be severely curtailed in terms of what you allow yourself to enjoy doing. The problem will be not so much with God Himself, but with your perception of how God sees you. In actual fact, those whose faith is weaker find it harder to be as free as God intended. Let’s put that another way: those who have all these laws and rules about what is and is not allowed actually have a *weaker* faith, despite appearing more ‘religious’! Think about that!
One word of caution: you need to exercise your freedom in a way that does not cause the weaker-faith people to stumble. ‘So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves’ (Rom 14:22) And pray that God will open their eyes to see what blessings He has in store.
Interestingly, some of the happiest Christians I know are people who have not been ‘brought up’ in a Christian environment. They’re maybe ex-homeless people, ex-addicts; that sort of thing. They have no preconceived ideas, given by their religious background, that God wants them to not enjoy life. They have been set free from some of the hardest, toughest circumstances that humans can experience – and they are filled indeed with this ‘joy inexpressible’….. They have come from the direst circumstances into the ‘glorious freedom of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21) and they are free to enjoy life as God meant it – good football, good coffee, good company – and all the while walking with God. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
Does that sound like a God who wants people to be miserable? So, go and play golf, go and fly your aeroplanes, go and watch the entire Lord of the Rings series (Director’s cuts, of course) back-to-back. Life in its fulness!
Go and enjoy it!
[Edit: There’s more on how people define ‘sin’ and how people try to control others in my blog post here]
3 thoughts on “Life in all its fulness!”
“Does that sound like a God who wants people to be miserable? So, go and play golf, go and fly your aeroplanes, go and watch the entire Lord of the Rings series (Director’s cuts, of course) back-to-back. Life in its fulness!
Go and enjoy it!”
That’s just it– that’s just what I’ve struggled with and been under for the past seven years! Why, you might ask? Because seven years ago, I was at home seeing a DVD of Get Smart (the classic NBC/CBS comedy w/the great late Don Adams), and I wanted to make sure that I had my mother’s phone with me so she could get to me if she called. I went to go get it, and as I was running back to finish what I was seeing, I jumped up and hit my head on the doorframe in my bathroom. The impact dazed me like nothing else ever did. I tried to go back and resume what I was seeing, so as to take my mind off of it, but it did not work.
Neither would it work in the future that was ahead from that time, for whenever I tried to enjoy many of the shows that I would normally enjoy (60s, 70s and 80s, all on DVD), I would hear a voice in my head (possibly my conscience) yelling “Immoral!”. It did not matter one whit that what I was seeing seemed to have very mild sexual content, if anything, and possibly had very little in terms of violence; in fact, no matter what I tried to see from that point ([even if it had no sex or violence], sports, game shows, everything)– that very same voice would reassert itself. It was so bad that I couldn’t enjoy DVDs of old Chicago Bears NFL games from their great 1985 season, or even classic college football games of the Oklahoma Sooners– I think even black and white classic series of the past on DVD fell under that faulty voice of my conscience. I think it’s because I might have listened to preachers who yelled about how television was immorality and sin (I may be incorrect on that, as it’s been a coon’s age), and I became confused– were they meaning that most of what’s on today was the immorality and sin, or were they broadbrushing the medium from its beginnings in the 40s?
Fortunately, over time, my faulty conscience’s yellings seemed to diminish, and I have enjoyed a few shows lately that have been really well done for their times, and those have even included two Westerns, a genre which before I wanted no part of; those Westerns are Have Gun Will Travel, w/the late great Richard Boone as Paladin, and Wanted: Dead or Alive, w/another late great, Steve McQueen, as bounty hunter Josh Randall.
So there you have it– I am saying all this to indicate that I am very much in agreement with you on everything you’ve said here, and also to share my story, as far as I can remember.
Thanks for putting this up!
Hi Ben! Thank you so much for your comment! Ouch on the head injury, though, big-time 🙁
Do you think the head-strike amplified the ‘conscience’ voice? I’ve not heard of that before but it’s an interesting thing to have happened if that is indeed what you meant.
Agreed on Steve McQueen, btw. I loved him in ‘The Magnificent Seven’, and one of my all-time favourites, ‘The Great Escape’. I remember ‘Get Smart’ used to be in a comic I used to read when I was about seven years old. I didn’t ‘get’ it of course and I don’t remember seeing it on TV back then.
I personally no longer have problems with watching/participating in anything that I used to have conscience problems with. That’s not to say it’s been ‘seared with a hot iron’, more that I have found my freedom and I know what really is bad for me and what really isn’t. So away with the shotgun approach of ‘if it feels good, it can’t be good for you’. That’s the voice of misery.
I tell you what, though, at the moment I have occasional problems reading the Bible because sometimes, if I am reading a difficult passage, or one that used to be used to bring me into slavery, instead of hearing the Voice of the Spirit, I hear the dry, dusty grey voice of legalism and nasty Pharisees. Most odd. I am having to learn to put aside such verses until such time as that voice has dried up, and concentrate on the passages that are a blessing. Cherry-picking? Yeah, very much so! Well, what are they going to do, arrest me? 😉 Haha freedom is so great!
Speaking of which, you might like this more recent piece on similar subject:
Thanks again for your comment 🙂