Study Guide: Redeeming Pleasure

Sunday January 3, 2016 | Jeremy Jernigan

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

This week we heard from a guest speaker, Jeremy Jernigan, teach on the topic of his new book, Redeeming Pleasure. The topic of pleasure within the church has often been shied away from because of an assumption that pleasure is connected with guilt and shame. Jeremy emphasized the need to seek pleasure on God’s terms where we will experience maximum pleasure rather than seeking pleasure on our own terms which ultimately leads to less pleasure.

Extended Summary:

Jeremy Jernigan, our guest speaker, began his teaching by emphasizing the discomfort of the topic of pleasure within the church along with the needs to expand the definition of pleasure beyond merely sexual pleasure. Jeremy defined pleasure as “a cause or source of enjoyment or delight”. Ultimately our journey for God and our journey for pleasure should be the same journey, but this has been confused and warped by our culture and our misunderstanding and mistrust of God’s character and plan for us. Within our culture we more often than need have two extremes when it comes to pleasure. We either emphasize no pleasure in our pursuit of God OR we emphasize seeking out all pleasure and abandon God. In the back of our minds most of us believe that there is a sense of guilt within the seeking out of pleasure.

The problem with the cultural understanding of pleasure is that seeking out pleasure on ones own terms drives it. We want what we want when we want it and oftentimes miss the truest pleasure in our pursuit of pleasure. Jeremy drove this point home through a story of an interaction with a banker who randomly asked him his opinion on pre-marital sex. The interaction ended with Jeremy emphasizing that the guilt she was feeling in her current relationship was driven by her avoidance of God’s design for her to experience maximum pleasure through sex in the context of marriage. This was the deepest truth of the narrative between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6-7). The eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was driven by a desire to have our own knowledge apart from God and it broke our dependence on God. When we pursue pleasure on our own terms apart from God we experience dangerous consequences that lead to shame.

The final story Jeremy shared was of the hot water leak in his house that flooded the remainder of the house. The leak temporarily provided a warm tile in his bathroom while being oblivious to the greater leak under the surface. Jeremy notes that the heat on the floor was not worth the leak in the house. This pleasure of the heated floor was a bad trade for the resulting pain, money, time and overall headache of a forced home renovation. This truth is easy to see in the example of a water leak, but can much harder to see in our everyday pursuit of pleasure. We ultimately are required to trust in Jesus in a way that most of us don’t do on a daily basis. We live with a default setting of skepticism or believing that God is not as beautiful and loving as He actually is in the person of Jesus. In order to redeem the beauty of pleasure we need to redeem our picture of the Jesus-looking God who is not holding out on us, but is yearning for us to experience true life (John 10:10) and true pleasure by seeking pleasure on His terms rather than our own.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is your first thought when you think about “pleasure” and “church” together? Does it make you apprehensive?
  2. Do you think God wants you to experience pleasure? What messages have you heard on that question from either the church or the broader culture?
  3. Craig Groeschel was quoted in the sermon as saying, “If you don’t think sin is fun then you’re not doing it right”. What can we learn about pleasure from this quote? How has pleasure been distorted and turned into sin?
  4. Where in your life are you seeking a momentary pleasure on your own terms rather than God’s terms? Sex? Money? Possessions? Relationships? Etc.?
  5. C.S. Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew noted that “all get what they want, they do not always like it”. Can you think of an example of getting something you wanted and not liking it? What can you learn from that experience? Whose agenda were you seeking?