Enjoyment takes practice. That may sound odd within our pleasure-seeking culture, but true enjoyment is a gift from God that far exceeds our appetites for amusement. Our culture is obsessed with pleasure. We overeat, overindulge, and even use the term “overkill” when what we do exceeds what is necessary. However, the more we indulge, the less pleasure we find.
Within a culture like ours, Christianity is often viewed as the polar opposite of pleasure, amusement, and enjoyment. Some have described Christians as possessing a “haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be happy” (A Mencken Chrestomathy, 624).
In reality, the church has often led the way in the practice of enjoyment and pleasure. One New Testament scholar points out that it was the church, not Starbucks, that created coffee culture. He writes that coffee was first invented by Ethiopian monks—the term cappuccino refers to the shade of brown used for the habits of the Capuchin monks of Italy. “Coffee is born of extravagance, an extravagant God who formed an extravagant people, who formed a craft out of the pleasures of roasted beans and frothed milk” (Witherington, Work, 111).
Hallelujah. God invented coffee. Indeed, “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17).
G.K. Chesterton saw in God a childlike wonder, for children never tire of beauty and pleasure. Chesterton imagined that God revels in the pleasure of His creation like an enthusiastic child:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we (Orthodoxy, 109).
As Trish Warren writes, “We have grown old and become dulled to the wonders around us” (Liturgy of the Ordinary, 132). Throughout life we need to relearn the abandon of revelry and the childlike wonder of simple pleasures given as gifts from God. Yes, indeed, enjoyment takes practice.
I encourage you this week to revel in the pleasure of God’s creation. Embrace enjoyment with abandon. Don’t feel guilty about taking time to sip a cappuccino in honor of the Capuchin monks of Italy in whose name this coffee was given. And in so doing, let’s worship the extravagant God who created an extravagant people who formed a beautiful craft out of the pleasures of roasted beans and frothed milk.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV).