“frui: to enjoy; in the Augustinian vocabulary, frui means specifically to love something for its own sake or as an end in itself, as contrasted to uti, to love something for the sake of another or as a means to a higher end. In the Augustinian perspective adopted by the medieval and the Protestant scholastics, frui applies only to the love of creatures for God (see amor Dei) since God alone deserves to be loved for his own sake and as an ultimate end. The created order is not to be despised, but rather to be loved (uti) as a means to the higher end of the love of God. Thus God is loved for his sake alone, whereas self and neighbor are loved for God’s sake because they are God’s creatures and reflect the divine love. In this view, sin is easily characterized as an idolatry that loves the finite as an ultimate end in and for itself.” (pg. 125)

What do you do with your joy? When you delight in something are you treating it like an end in itself or are you mindful that this person, moment, or medium is not the ultimate object of your joy but rather an image reflecting the God of Joy? I think we’ve lost this language in our consumerist culture, images and items become status symbols and even worse they become how we identify our joy.

No one captures this culture that American Christianity is captivated by, better than John Piper and his theology of pleasure, or as he’s termed it ‘Christian Hedonism’. I encourage you all to consider why you take joy in things and if you’ve lost this distinction in your life between ‘frui’ and ‘uti’. Do you see your love for your neighbor or sister and brother in Christ as a love for God’s sake or is it something you just kinda know you should be doing? Wrestle with this, Muller and Piper have again reminded me that I live in my Father’s world and all affection ought to be a Kingdom driven affection, it ought to remember its Creator and delight in His image in creation. I think that’s why hatred, contempt, bitterness, and malignant desires are so dangerous and injurious to the body of Christ. In a sense, those affections are an expression of our desire to re-imagine the world not as God has created it.

May God continue to redeem our ‘frui’ and ‘uti’, and may he keep our imaginations and affections focused on his glorious redemption of this fallen, created world through the Kingdom work of His presence through His new people.