There are two ways to ruin our relationship with the Giver of all things. The first is to ignore him and focus entirely on his gifts. This temptation to idolatry is ever present, and we must remain vigilant against it. The second way is to ignore the gift and focus entirely on the Giver. What would we make of an insufferably pious child who opened every Christmas present only to toss it aside and say, “Thanks, Mom and Dad, but all I really want is you!” Wouldn’t the parents throw up their hands and say, “I’m glad you love us best, but you know what, you’re impossible to shop for!” If the first temptation ignores the God who gives, the second refuses to let him be the God who gives.
This latter temptation is a subtler form of idolatry. It’s idolatry because we are acting as if we know better than God, who gives us “every good and perfect gift” to enjoy (James 1:7). Theologian Doug Wilson explains, “If I turn every gift that God gives over in my hands suspiciously, looking for the idol trap, then I am not rejoicing before Him the way I ought to be.” And it’s subtle because it seems exceedingly pious. We assume we must be in pretty good shape if our biggest problem is that our love for God swamps our appreciation for his gifts.
We must see God’s gifts of creation as windows into his glory and opportunities to praise him. But we must also find pleasure in them. We should thank God for our day on the lake, but we don’t need to say “Praise you, Jesus!” with each cast. We must thank God for our daily bread, but it’s okay to focus on the flavors of our sandwich while we’re eating it. We’re even allowed to score a touchdown or hit a home run without pausing to pound our chest and point to heaven.
Our love for Jesus and his world is not a zero sum game. Attention given to creation is not stolen from its Creator. The more we enjoy God’s gifts for their own sake, the more we can appreciate him. And thank him for, and love him with. Where will you enjoy God’s creation today? Thank God for the privilege of being human and of being here. Then go have some fun.