Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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An experiment was conducted with rats such that an electrical wire was placed in the pleasure center of their brain and access given to a paddle that when pressed would give a brief electrical stimulation. The rats would starve to death seeking pleasure. The bible speaks to some who lives for pleasure as being “dead” while they live (1Tim 5:6).

The ability to experience pleasure is not bad in itself. However, the direct electrical or chemical stimulation of pleasure sets one on a trajectory that is generally self-destructive. Children begin life with a similar pleasure seeking inclination. Parents should help their children develop what is called “delayed gratification” such that they can chose to forgo momentary pleasure for longer term objectives. This opens insight into a characteristic of pleasure that is not often appreciated, that it can be configurable.

There are some that take pleasure in a job well done, while some others may take pleasure in getting an advantage over others or even actually hurting them. The values one develops often shapes how one experiences pleasure. God experiences pleasure when he sees those who show love, kindness, and faithfulness (1Ch 29:17). One can derive pleasure seeing one’s children choose to avoid bad companions or make sound decisions. Much can be learned about someone from the choices they make that give them pleasure.

One can see how what one takes pleasure in is formed so deeply and over time that it can seem impervious to change when one considers a favorite sports team. One can take pleasure in their successes and feel discomfort at their losses. If one relocates to another city, slowly over time one might shift their allegiance to another team but it would be difficult. For many getting money is foundational to their value system. In a consumer society money becomes amplified in importance. A promotion is often seen less in terms of the work required than the monetary compensation.

Fame can also be sought for the pleasurable sensations anticipated by vanity. However, the reality of fame often becomes less pleasurable. Similarly lottery winners can find their relationships destroyed by what they thought would give them pleasure. More commonly, those who find pleasure in group acceptance can find themselves prisoners of the group. The saying, “Be carful what you wish for, you just might get it”, reflects the often mistaken idea of what would be pleasurable.

Christians often do not fully recognize the degree to which our desires have been shaped by what is called the world. Our actions may be shaped by what others believe more than what God would have. For example a parent may send his child to college with the full expectation that going through this door would give his child a happier, successful, and more comfortable life. He might be surprised when his child becomes a militant social activist atheist with a student debt that is almost impossible to pay off with a degree in art history.

David laments of previous generations that had not “set their hearts aright” (Ps 78:8). This speaks to the neglect to take control of what one desires and takes pleasure in. Christians today have an additional advantage over those of ancient Israel with the indwelling Holy Spirit that we do not have to fight an uphill battle within ourselves. We can simply chose not to walk after the flesh or take pleasure in short sighted indulgences (1Th 5:5-8). However, this requires us to be aware of ourselves and our environment and actively seeking to grow in wisdom and understanding.



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