ODJ: where’s your garden?

January 29, 2016 

READ: John 18:1-11 

Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees (v.1).

My friend enjoys painting, but this sensitive soul often feels guilty when she’s working in her studio. She wonders whether she should be doing something more “Christ-like” with her time. How can I be taking up my cross if I’m doing something I enjoy? Have I become too focused on the stuff of this world?

She shouldn’t feel guilty for doing something she enjoys, for that wholesome pleasure was God’s idea first (Genesis 1:27-31). He came up with beauty, laughter, strawberries, and sunny days. And while God warns us against idolatry—the sin of putting our hopes and trust in any earthly pleasure—He has nothing against the pleasure itself. Even Jesus went out of His way to recharge His batteries with worldly beauty.

The week that Jesus died, He escaped the urban chaos of Jerusalem by crossing the Kidron Valley and retreating into a quiet stand of olive trees. He had made this journey so often that Judas knew right where to find Him. Judas “knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples” (John 18:2). Jesus’ garden respite was suddenly invaded by “blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons” (v.3), and the night became a microcosm of the battle that was taking place in the universe. Violence and betrayal had marched into God’s good world, and only one Man could save it.

Jesus defeated evil by His death and resurrection. Then He ascended to heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to continue the campaign through us. It can be exhausting to stand for love and righteousness in this evil age, so let’s follow Jesus’ lead and make time for refreshment in the pleasures of Earth. What beautiful spot inspires you? What activity energizes you? Where is your garden?

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Genesis 45:1-28

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-5 to learn what God thinks about earthly pleasure. 
What wholesome pleasure does God want you to enjoy? What idol does He want you to destroy?