Saturday, May 18, 2002

Edifier du jour-Colossians 2:20-23-
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
The common quip on the Christian's earthly existance is "in the world, but not of the world." The proto-Gnostics that Paul was doing battle with carried that thought to an unhealthy and heretical extreme, looking at everything physical as bad and everything metaphysicial as better. That hatred of the physical led them to think Jesus only looked human, since a perfect God couldn't possibly be in such a grungy form. God created the world with joys aplenty. Jesus said in John 10:10 "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." This verse can be overused by the name-it-and-claim-it folks to overephasize physical blessings, but we can rightly take pleasures on what joy we do find from good food, fun games and other physical joys. I've misplaced my copy of The Screwtape Letters, so I'll have to cite from memory, but Lewis had Screwtape commenting that all joys were invented by God and that the demons could only twist them. Somewhere between the gnostic hatred of the physical and the Prosparity Gospel's love of the physical is a healthy apprecation of God's creation. We should have a even greater appreciation of God and the better world to come, but that doesn't mean we can't smell the roses while we're here. [Update 8:30pm -Jeffery Collins came up with a comparable Screwtape quote, but not the one I was looking for. I dug out my copy which has been AWOL since coming back from Florida last month-it had found its way behind my dresser when I unpacked. However, I also remember that I had cited the passage in question last month.
He's a hedonist at heart. All those fast and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like the foam on a sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure and more pleasure. He makes on secret; at His right hand are "pleasures for evermore."... He's vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least-sleeping, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it's any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.
I'll brace myself for Collins' take on modern prophecy, but we seem to be on a good wave-length.]

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