The Bible often mentions (and pastors often stress) the need to be in this world without being worldly. Obviously that danger exists, since we’re such sensory people, but most Christians have long learned to be wary of that pitfall – perhaps too much so!
The thing is: God created our senses. We hear, touch, smell, taste, and see a sensory-rich world around us, so God surely did not create such lavishness for us to ignore. Although temptations can come through our senses, our Creator does not tempt us! God is love. And, more than any earthly parent, our Heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts to receive with thanks and enjoyment.
As poets and writers, we draw on these senses each time we write or speak words into being. Nevertheless, I haven’t thought much about the need to enjoy – really enjoy – the things of the earth, except to note that one of my all-time favorite poems is “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” by the Pulitzer prized poet Richard Wilbur. So when Crossway released the book The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts by Joe Rigney, I eagerly requested a review copy, which the publisher kindly sent.
If you have ever felt guilty for enjoying life and its gifts, read this book! If you think holiness cannot abide laughter, read this book. If you merely tolerate each day, read this book.
As Joe Rigney wisely says, “we can see that God is meticulous in his attention to detail” so that even “every ant has a genealogy. There are no rogue molecules. There are no random atoms. There are no wayward snowflakes. Everything has purpose. Everything has design. Everything has intent. We may not always know exactly what it is, but we can rest in the knowledge that God is working all things according to the counsel of his will, that his purposes are always for our good.”
Along those lines, this highly readable text develops a theology called “Christian hedonism,” which greatly differs from the no-no kind, especially if we see all of creation as “communication from the triune God.”
God the Father has given us a mind, body, and spirit akin to God’s own, so we rightly pull ourselves together as one person in three. As Professor Rigney says, “We don’t set God and his gifts in opposition to each other, as though they are rivals,” nor must we disintegrate in opposition to ourselves. “When we love God supremely and fully, we are able to integrate our joy in God and our joy in his gifts, receiving the gifts as shafts of his glory.”
And “So embrace your creatureliness. Don’t seek to be God. Instead, embrace the glorious limitations and boundaries that God has placed on you as a character in his story.” Then write your story or poem or article, and read this book!
©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’s Guide and Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry.
The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, paperback