Chapel talk shows the pleasure of God’s will
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Jeremy Jernigan has a knack for making you look at things in new ways. Last year, for example, he amused the Chapel audience at Grand Canyon University by attaching a banana to an orange tree as part of an “I am the vine, you are the branches” talk.
Monday, he took the guilt out of discussing the concept of pleasure and made you think about why the term “guilty pleasure” is part of our vocabulary.
The executive pastor of Central Christian Church of the East Valley was sharing the ideas from his new book, “Redeeming Pleasure: How the Pursuit of Pleasure Mirrors Our Hunger for God,” in which he, according to its description, “examines the root of God’s intention for pleasure” and “reimagines pleasure and unmasks its deceptive allure.”
“We’re not comfortable talking about pleasure because we focus on its consequences and shame,” he said.
Jernigan said this results in two paths for many people: They take all the pleasure out of their lives, or they turn their back on God by making pleasure their central focus.
“Why do we choose either one of those?” he asked. “Why don’t we realize that maybe we can find God in both?”
Right from the start, Jernigan didn’t try to dodge the elephant in the room — sex. From the first time he uttered “pleasure,” he suggested that his listeners’ minds immediately drifted to that three-letter word — which only makes people even more uncomfortable talking about it in a church setting.
But talk about it we must, Jernigan suggested, if we are to understand the difference between Satan’s “whenever, wherever” idea of pleasure and how God wants us to approach it.
“When we pursue pleasure on our terms, the way that we want to do it, we actually experience less of it,” he said. “By pursuing pleasure on God’s terms, we actually experience more of it.”
To underscore his point, Jernigan referenced Genesis 3:6, in which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit — something they did on their terms, apart from God. He also used John 10:10 as a sign that we live life to the fullest when we trust in God: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
As crazy as that sounds to some people. Jernigan spent two chapters in the book talking about how our view of God affects our view of pleasure.
“The idea of pleasure radiating from God, most of us would go, ‘I don’t think He’s the one that comes up with that,” he said. “And yet God’s going, ‘This is who I am.’ All that is good comes from Him.”
Jernigan challenged the audience to look at ways they are experiencing pleasure apart from God.
“I think we need to reframe the conversation. It’s not this angry God who’s saying, ‘Do it My way or else I’ll make you miserable,’” he said. “It’s a really good God who’s saying, ‘Hey, trust Me on this one. If you would live the way I’ve called you to live you would experience a different type of life.’”
A life where pleasure feels innocent.
● For a replay of Jernigan’s talk, click here.
● Next Monday’s Chapel: Christmas service
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.