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Confessions: Delight in God

These lowest things do have their delights, but not in comparison to you, my God, who made everything. The just person delights in God’s self, and God himself is the delight of those with righteous hearts. —Saint Augustine, Confessions 2.9

All created things are by the divine decree “good.” Earth, sea, sky, and its inhabitants are all tov, despite becoming undone by sin. Although everything that exists on this plane of existence is “low” and made even lower by sin, we can still find delight in it.

Any form of Christianity that denies this is far away from Biblical and historical Christianity. The problem is not the created order, the problem is displacement. The first humans displaced God when they chose to trust a serpent (creation) over God (creator).

All life has an order, a taxonomy if you will. And when things are displaced either the entire environment will change or it will be destroyed. In the case of God and creation, it is the latter. As the creator, he is the first and quintessential source of joy and delight. Any displacement of God results in undoing by natural order, not divine punishment.

The creation story is about God bringing chaos into order. Imagine light without sun, moon, and stars? birds without a sky? marine life without a sea? Or land creatures without dry land? Chaos. If we remove God from the story, the chaos is never brought into order.

In the same manner, those who never bring God to be their first delight will never see their chaos brought to order; in this life or the next. Those who remove God as their delight will begin to see their world become undone. Watch how cynicism, creeps in and taints all the good that exists in them, leaving behind a hollow shell of what was there before.

The issue is not the pleasures and delights of this world, the issue is displacement. Neither ascetic nor hedonists, but human. For it is within the wisdom of knowing our place and God's place in the divine order that we can truly experience the joy of being human.

The righteous will rejoice in the LORD

and take refuge in him;

all the upright in heart will glory in him!

—Psalm 64:10

Lord, be my delight.

Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.


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