We’ve been robbed. Had our fun restricted, our pleasure censored, a wet blanket tossed over our joy. If it feels good, tastes good, looks good – it must be bad. A cursory examination of the world’s religions leads me to that same conclusion: we’ve been robbed.
It’s kind of funny, actually ironic, that rules-based religions mostly tell us what we can’t do. You can’t murder, commit adultery, steal, or even covet someone else’s stuff. Now, those aren’t bad rules at all, but the next thing you know they spiral down to what you can’t wear, what you can’t eat or drink, what you can’t see with the eyes God gave you. The irony? Jesus summed up all the rules in this simple and profound statement:
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
You see, it’s not what you don’t do that counts, it’s what you do do.
I recall from high school health class how our senses all work together to interpret the world around us. We smell bacon cooking and salivate with joy. We see the sunset over the Pacific and applaud the show. We hear the wind rustle the leaves in fall and pull our coat a little closer. We sip from a glass of red wine and marvel at the complexity of the vintner’s process. These things are not mistakes. This is how we are designed, our ability to not only gather the information around us but the intellectual and spiritual depth to process and enjoy the input.
As humans we have the unique situation of being three parts: body, soul and spirit. With our bodies we live in and experience the world we are born into; with our souls we can investigate the world within; with our spirit we look up to the One who made us. All three parts comprise who we are, and with any one part ignored or restricted or censored our whole being suffers.
But slow down, cowboy. Of course, I’m not advocating that we can do anything our heart desires. I am not preaching the gospel of “if it feels good, do it”. Remember that Love God thing? That means He expects some responsibility on our part. And that Love Your Neighbor thing? Well, that’s the litmus test of the first thing. If we are seeking a spiritual connection with the God who made us than we will certainly end up seeking a communal connection with the folks around us.
But I digress. To rock and roll.
I was listening to music last night. It was loud and impactful, full of energy and drive. I was trying out some new equipment that I had bought, an extravagant purchase in the pursuit of better sound. I really enjoyed the evening – sometimes I just get into a groove and the music choices just flow one to another as if they were designed that way. I had fun as my physical being heard and felt the sound waves, as my soul processed the info and turned it into pleasure, and even as my spirit looked up and realized that the God of the universe was okay with this little creation enjoying life.
God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
Because as it turns out it’s okay to live. We can use all of our physical being to gather up input, all of our soul to process it and make it palatable, all of our spirit to find the truth in every part of our existence. We were not designed to hide behind a wool robe in a stone building under a vow of silence, pretending the world out there does not exist. It would be a cruel Father indeed who told his children that while he gave them everything, they could enjoy none of it.
King Solomon said it well, and this paraphrased translation of the ancient text does it justice:
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, for there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think in the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.
Live your life to the fullest. Go and see and taste and hear and move and feel. Speak truth and love, experience joy and have fun. It’s okay to fully flex the muscles of existence. You have a body and a soul and a spirit. Because, like rock and roll, God gave it all to you.