Pleasing God?

A few weeks ago, I had “one of those days” as a parent. One of those amazing, incredible days where the kids are nothing but a joy. You look around and think that maybe someone has played a joke on you and replaced your normal kids who fight and argue and disobey with some kind of alien life form. However, rather than think too much about it, I decided to just enjoy it.

On this particular day, I had taken the day off so I picked the kids up from school. When they got home, they both told me that they needed to go and get their homework done. Next, they helped each other get dinner ready and were generally kind and helpful. No arguing … no cajoling and bribing to do homework … just joyful interactions and responses. Throughout the rest of the day, I kept thinking, “It’s really easy to be a parent today.”

And as those thoughts came to my mind, I also began to think, “I wonder how easy it is for God to parent me.” Certainly, as an omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful being, ease is not an issue. It’s all “easy” for Him in one sense. But, then I thought deeper and wondered, “how much joy do I bring to God as His child? Do I bring God pleasure?”

I’ve often heard people talk about “pleasing God” and Hebrews 11 even talks about it being impossible to please God without faith. However, most of the discussion about pleasing God seems to center around the idea that God is generally displeased and there are things we can do to make Him happy with us. It’s easy to read the Bible that way. But just maybe, we’ve missed something about this “pleasing” idea that can be informed a little bit better with a quick theological reflection.

First, Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. In other words, we are already pleasing to Him. That is the basic stance that He takes toward us because of what Christ has done in us through His work on the cross. Second, based on this understanding, our reading of other passages which talk about pleasing God have to be informed by this basic sense in which we are already pleasing. So, I am pleasing to God and I bring joy to Him because I am His kid. But, then I am able to live in way that brings Him pleasure on top of that. It’s like icing on the cake. When I understand how much God loves me and is pleased with me, it takes all the pressure off and I can live for Him and trust Him as a response to His love. Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith, and so I can put the frosting on the cake as I trust Him and live by faith. He loves it when I trust Him – it brings Him pleasure, but not the kind of pleasure that He’s upset if I don’t. If I don’t trust Him, He still looks at me with a gleam in His eye but He longs for more for me.

When my kids act like the nine and eleven year olds that they are, I don’t get mad but I long for them to grow and mature. The Father longs for us to know Him in deep ways because that is where we will find our deepest joy. His pleasure is my pleasure. There is profound intersection of joy that sounds a lot like a real relationship.


~ by Ted Wueste on October 14, 2011.

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