Stacy and I have been privileged to tag along with the Passion Movement since Passion ’97. Beyond the joy of watching God meet and launch college students, God has used Passion to illuminate His worth, to shape our hearts, and to cultivate our ministry.
This brief series of posts is connected to my favorite message moments from this year’s gathering. I might have missed your favorite, but these are the pieces still pinball-ing around my heart. Glory to God for His mercy and kindness in meeting us for those special days!
Part One – Levi Lusko [text: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18]
This message moment helped students (and grown-ups) put a label to their habits—Epicurean. It means, a fondness for luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasure. Pastor Levi tied this to a belief, even one subconscious, that we should grab and consume and indulge in all that we can because life is finite; “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” That last phrase sounds Shakespearean, but good sir—alas, it is connected to 1 Corinthians 15:32, when Paul exclaims that if there is no resurrection, we might as well live Epicurean.
“The more you look forward to the next world, the less you’ll need this one.” (Levi Lusko)
Levi called us to live in the truth that this world is not all there is; that we—by grace through faith in Jesus—are alive for eternity. Our years on this corrupted version of earth are limited. In comparison to the timeline of eternity, they barely register. Do not over-inflate the value of things and experiences on earth. You were made for eternity. There will be things and experiences in the life to come in the new heavens and on the new earth. I have no idea what they are, and beware of anyone who tells you they know.
The era of local grocery stores (it hasn’t always been that way), restaurant rows, and big shiny refrigerators calls for restraint. Over-indulgence has never been so easy.
What is your relationship with food? It is fuel? Is it therapy? Is it healthy? Is it unhealthy? Start with defining your relationship with food and then progress into identifying any patterns of gluttony or waste. Consume and enjoy so that your full stomach and smiling face give thanks to God for the grace of abundant food and delicious drink. Consume and enjoy, with a view that the buffet in eternity will be exponentially better. Consume and enjoy in gratitude for the many flavors born of God’s creative mind. But do not consume and enjoy for fear that you had better enjoy yourself before it’s all over—before you are six feet under. In Christ, you are alive. Permanently.
What is your relationship with entertainment? The era of bottomless streaming and spectacular gaming requires great discipline. Satan, not the streamer or game designer makes us distracted, unproductive, sleepy, and sidelined from life’s mission. Your flesh wants one or seven more episodes. Your boss expects you to arrive rested and ready to earn your salary. Your professor (and parent) expects you to show-up having slept enough to genuinely focus, absorb, and contribute.
The existence of so many shows and games does not require us to indulge. Just because there are new episodes available, does not mean you must binge all of them. Grace does not excuse our multi-platform gluttony. We are accountable for our ways and days.
Entertainment is a good created thing. It links to all the feels, which link to our God-made capacity for laughter and drama. Entertainment is good for rest and recreation. It can serve part (not all) of our need for Sabbath so we can return to work.
Consider portion control in the way you consume media. How much time, how many episodes (or video games)—before entertainment crosses the line from recreation to indulgence?
Enjoy all that God has made, but let none of them own you. Do not help Satan label you “non-threatening” because he has entertained you all the way out of the game. Do not chase after pleasures as if they were about to expire. Maintain a vision for the Life that is to come. By the way, whatever things and experiences we find in heaven, none of them will rival the pleasure of being with Jesus.
- I enjoy a modest slice of my wife’s German Chocolate Cake.
- I am enjoying a grande-soy-well-stirred-with whip-mocha as I write this.
- I enjoy a nice red with a pinkish filet.
- I enjoy answering the call of duty on Xbox One.
- I have a serious relationship with the Kindle App on my Ipad.
- I am a frequent flyer on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. (Lately I’ve been loving the “Epic Fail” videos. Don’t judge!)
We all struggle with issues of over-indulgence. Let’s make this a matter of prayer as well as careful planning for how we consume life’s good things.
Some will argue that a disciple of Jesus should not identify with Epicureanism. Some will argue that to appreciate beauty and pleasure is to recognize the handiwork of God. “The less you need from this world, the more you can enjoy it.” (Levi Lusko)
Enjoy all that God has made and give thanks. Yet do so with sober discipline—mindful of pleasure’s traps.
Things are pretty good here in 2018. Yet we say with longing, “Come quickly Lord Jesus.”