My son Matthew is 3 ½ years old and, like most little children, he is enthralled with the world around him. Books on a shelf, stuff in drawers, cans in a cupboard and similar things fascinate him. He points to each item and asks, “What’s that?” The next day, he asks the same questions about the same items with the same level of interest.
As a middle-aged adult, I look at those books on the shelf and think, “I do have a nice collection.” I look in the same drawer and think, “I’ve got to organize that mess.” I look at the cans on the shelf and think, “We are running out of tomatoes.” Yet, I can remember being just like Matthew, during my own “wonder years.”
This doesn’t mean that nothing excites me anymore. About 10 years ago, I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. For the first few minutes, I was filled with unspeakable awe. Yet, as I kept looking at it, though still impressed, the excitement waned somewhat. Perhaps that’s how it is with our feelings about the world in general. When we are very young, everything is new to us. Every day seems to bring new discoveries and new pleasures, but, as we age, familiarity leads to a certain degree of contempt or, at least, boredom. “Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone,” sang John Cougar Mellencamp in the song, Jack and Diane.
Looking at stuff in drawers certainly doesn’t thrill many adults, so many of them turn to porn, drugs, gambling or extra-marital affairs. Others focus on worldly pleasures such as good food, fine possessions, luxurious travel and nightlife. There is nothing wrong with wanting legitimate pleasures, in moderation. However, those who are overly attached to the “things of the world” and are addicted to the “pleasures of the flesh” will not find lasting happiness.
Just as we are now “dead” to many of the pleasures we enjoyed as children, we will become “dead” to worldly hedonism. Some of this will happen on earth as we age, but the process will be complete when we leave our mortal bodies and enter the spiritual world. If, then, we still deeply crave the “things of the world” and do not truly love God, we will suffer a great deal.
“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
“And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (I John 2:17).