The first step to real gospel joy is real gospel brokenness. We cannot get to real happiness in God until we get to real despair of our sin. “Til sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet,” Thomas Watson tells us.I'm determined to walk in the grace and acceptance of God in Christ, not look idolatrously on anything or anyone else to meet my emotional or spiritual needs, and thereby be free to enjoy the quiddity of all he gives me (including a good steak for tonight's dinner). How about you?
But once we have despaired of all sin and the gods at their genesis, we are free. Really, truly free. To eat fat juicy steaks and drink rich red wine.
In fact, we cannot really enjoy the good gifts God gives us until he as their Giver is our greatest joy. Until he as their Giver is our greatest joy, we will left trying to enjoy his gifts for things they are not, rather than the things they are.
In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis credited a close friend with cultivating in him “a determination to rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being so magnificently what it was.” John Piper echoes this enjoyment of quiddity, commenting on this kind of awareness: “To wake up in the morning and be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the sheer being of things… “ This is in Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life.
If I don’t believe the gospel, I will miss out on the joy of the it-ness of things. I will be looking to these things as drugs, as appetite-fillers, as fulfillers, as powers, as gods, as worshipers of the god of myself.
If coffee or chocolate or anything else other than God is the highlight of my day or the ultimate joy of my heart, my joy is temporary, hollow, thin.
But if I believe in the gospel, I can finally enjoy the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee. Only the gospel frees me to enjoy things as they truly are and as they someday will be.
However, if you prefer to enjoy chocolate instead of steak, I'll understand.